FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said that he was almost positive that the 2012 season would be his last in the National Football League.
“I would say that I’m 95 percent sure,” Gonzalez said after the team’s practice session Friday. “I talked to my family this offseason. I’ve had a great run. I feel pretty good about where I’m at as a player. I just want to make sure that I end at the top.”
Gonzalez said that he was the kind of person that couldn’t allow himself to hold on and just be average, even though the 12-time Pro Bowl tight end said his body would allow him to play another three seasons.
During the offseason Gonzalez spoke to family members and close friends to help make his decision. He also spoke to retired players like Andre Reed and Jerry Rice—who told Gonzalez to play until the wheels fell off—to find out when a player knows when it’s the right time to retire.
The decision boiled down to a personal choice, one that was best for the Gonzalez family.
Before he signed his one-year contract extension last season, Gonzalez said he considered retiring after the 2011 season. But said he knew the Falcons had such a good team in place, a team primed for a deep playoff run.
“I knew the type of team we would have and I was comfortable with the system,” said Gonzalez. “This is where I wanted to be there’s no doubt about that. I love Atlanta, the city, the fans are great, organization is great, the players are really what brought me back because they’re such good players.”
Gonzalez has played three seasons in Atlanta where he’s amassed 233 receptions, 2,398 yards and 19 touchdowns. Over the 15 years he’s played in the NFL, no tight end has caught more career passes (1,149), tallied more receiving yards (13,338) or touchdowns (95).
Gonzalez also ranks 11th on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards list, 44 yards behind Torry Holt, 439 yards behind Henry Ellard, 561 yards behind Cris Carter and 666 yards behind seventh-place James Lofton.