On Monday night, barring a home playoff game, the San Francisco 49ers will say goodbye to Candlestick Park as they will be moving into Levi’s Stadium for the 2014 season.
Hoping to spoil the festivities will be the Atlanta Falcons, though The ‘Stick will always have a special place in the heart of Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez who unknowingly once saved the life of a sideline photographer.
As a member of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2000, Gonzalez caught a pass near the sideline before being shoved out of bounds by San Francisco linebacker Winfred Tubbs. Gonzo crashed into a photographer on the sideline, knocking him unconscious as the eventual Hall of Fame tight end explained in a conference call:
“He hits the ground and I look down at him. His eyes were in the back of his head. He was knocked out, unconscious. I tried to help him up, but people were, like, ‘Hey, get back in the huddle.’
“So I go back to playing the game. And a couple minutes later, I see the ambulance show up. And they take him away. Then, I hear after the game that he’s going to be OK. He’s in the hospital. They’re just running some tests on him. He’ll be OK. So I was happy about that.”
All was good, right? Well – not technically. Those tests ran on the sideline reporter, Mickey Pfleger revealed a brain tumor who needed a life saving operation.
Gonzalez was informed about the scary situation a few days later after the team had returned to Kansas City, which lead to the tight end and Pfleger, a freelance photographer maintaining a relationship until passed away at 61 in 2010.