Hispanic Heritage Month

Making Smart Choices

TFK talks to NFL star Tony Gonzalez about a new TV campaign to encourage kids to make healthy choices

November 16, 2012
GUY D'ALEMA—DISNEY XD

NFL star Tony Gonzalez, tight end for the Atlanta Falcons, is featured in a new Disney XD campaign about making smart and healthy choices

Tony Gonzalez, tight end for the Atlanta Falcons NFL team, stars in short TV segments on Disney XD. The clips feature Gonzalez as he encourages kids to make smart and healthy choices. The campaign, called Ninja Up! With Tony Gonzalez, is in support of Disney’s animated series, Randy Cunningham 9th Grade Ninja, which airs Monday through Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Disney XD.

TFK Kid Reporter Abhinav Piplani was on set as Gonzalez filmed the Ninja Up! segments at Atlanta’s Lakewood Grady Stadium. Gonzalez, 36, recently became the first tight end in NFL history to reach 100 receiving touchdowns in his career. How does he stay healthy? Read Abhinav’s interview with Gonzalez, below, to find out. Then, click here to watch a clip of Gonzalez on healthy eating.

TFK Kid Reporter Abhinav Piplani meets with Atlanta Falcons star Tony Gonzael at Stadium

GUY D'ALEMA—DISNEY XD
TFK Kid Reporter Abhinav Piplani meets with Atlanta Falcons star Tony Gonzalez at Lakewood Grady Stadium, in Atlanta, Georgia.

TFK:

Would you explain the new campaign?

GONZALEZ:

The NFL has teamed up with Disney XD to show kids that it’s cool to eat right, to have fun, and to make healthy decisions.

TFK:

Is there a reason that you’re out there helping kids to make healthy choices?

GONZALEZ:

Absolutely. I have a passion for health and wellness. I wrote a book for adults about eating right called the All-Pro Diet. I also think it’s really important for kids to eat right. I have an 11-year-old son, and I try to teach him that making healthy choices now will affect his whole life. It helps you focus better if you’re an athlete or if you’re in the classroom.

The food you put in your body is so important, I always say kids are like racing cars, and in racing cars, you can’t just put regular gas, you need to put the good stuff, the top-rated fuel. And that’s what food is: It’s fuel for your body and it helps you perform better.

TFK:

What do you want kids to take from your TV message?

GONZALEZ:

I want them to understand that making healthy lifestyle choices is cool and fun. It’s the way I do it and it’s the way a lot of the NFL players do it. Professionals around the world are really conscious of what we put into our bodies, and I want kids to know that they can eat well and it tastes good too.

TFK:

Has being a football player changed your eating habits or your lifestyle?

GONZALEZ:

Absolutely. This is my sixteenth year in the NFL and the average NFL career is two-and-a-half to three years, so, believe it or not, I am considered an old guy in the NFL. They call me “Old Man Tony” on my team! And I think the reason I’ve been able to stick around for so long is because after my tenth year in the NFL, my bones were hurting and I was sore all the time. I decided I was either going to have to retire or change the way I eat. And so I changed the way I ate. I started eating more fruits and vegetables, started staying away from fast foods and all the fried stuff, and I felt an immediate difference; I had more energy.

TFK:

What are some of the joys—and the difficulties—that go with football?

GONZALEZ:

The joys are being around people from all over the country, sometimes around the world. You get to play with international players and that’s really cool, because I grew up in California surfing and bike riding, and I get to mix with a guy from New York, or a guy from Alabama, who grew up in the woods hunting. It’s cool to see all these different personalities come together. During the off-season, I get to travel around the world. And obviously, football itself [is a joy].

I guess the difficulties would be going to meetings every day. A lot of people don’t understand, it’s hard work being a professional anything, let alone a pro football player. You get beat up a lot. You get aches and pains, and it gets old real quick, but that’s also part of the fun. It’s not easy or else everybody would be doing it. You’ve got to work really hard at it, and I’ve had fun with it.

TFK:

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

GONZALEZ:

Having three kids, I guess their hobbies are my hobbies. So I like watching Superman and going to the movies. I love to go bike riding with my kids, and playing outside. I also like to read, that’s one of my personal hobbies. I usually read two to three books at a time, and that’s something I started my second year in the NFL. When I was your age [11], I liked to read, but I didn’t go out and get a book myself—I usually read whatever the teacher gave me. But now I get books all the time, and that’s a good way to get my mind off things.

TFK:

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

GONZALEZ:

It’s important that everybody knows that whatever they want to do in life, they’ll get out of it just what they put into it. So if you put hard work and dedication and passion behind it, then the sky’s the limit for what you can do.

Click here to watch a Ninja Up! With Tony Gonzalez clip of Gonzalez on healthy eating.


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