Executive Book Club

NFL Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez says these 2 books are helping him 'level up' in life

Tony Gonzalez poses with his bust during his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium on August 3, 2019 in Canton, Ohio.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Tony Gonzalez is a former NFL tight end who played 17 seasons in the league and was selected 14 times for the Pro Bowl.

After retiring from the NFL in 2013, Gonzalez continued his career in sports by becoming an analyst for CBS Sports and Fox Sports. Now, as an NFL Hall of Famer, podcast host and author, he tells The New York Times that he continues to keep his physical and mental health intact by sleeping at least eight hours a night, meditating, working out and reading books.

"I love philosophy and spirituality and leveling-up books and science books," says Gonzalez, who reveals that he doesn't read sports books. As someone who has spent the majority of his life playing and working in sports, he says he believes "you should really cast a big net when it comes to life and learning. In the end, you're so much better for it."

Currently, the Fox Sports analyst says he's reading the book "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World" by David Epstein. The book, which focuses on the importance of being open to diverse experiences and interests, is "phenomenal," says Gonzalez.

"I love his books," says the 43-year-old, about the author Epstein. "I'm going to get him on my podcast."

Gonzalez, who interviews business and entertainment professionals for his podcast "Wide Open with Tony Gonzalez," also lists Richard Rohr's "The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe" as a book he "really like[s]." The spiritual read, which is a New York Times bestseller, draws on scripture and history to articulate "a transformative view of Jesus Christ as a portrait of God's constant, unfolding work in the world," according to its listing on Amazon.

In addition to Gonzalez, several other former athletes have openly talked about the impact books have had on their post-retirement journey. In fact, former NFL tight end Martellus Bennett told CNBC Make It in 2018 that his biggest splurge is books. "I have about 3,500 books, maybe more," he says.

Bennett, who played 10 seasons in the league, credits his reading habit in part to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In 2015, Zuckerberg challenged himself to read a new book every other week for a year. When Bennett heard the news, he decided to do the same.

"I figured, if Mark Zuckerberg could read one book every two weeks, and he's running [an] almost trillion-dollar empire, then one thing that little old me could do is read one book every two weeks," he says.

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Ex NFL player Martellus Bennett says his biggest splurge is books — and he has 3,500 of them
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