Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez is 95 percent sure he’s retiring after 2012

Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and tight end Tony Gonzalez share stories on the opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, July 26, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and tight end Tony Gonzalez share stories on the opening day of training camp in Flowery Branch on Thursday, July 26, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who’s set to enter his 16th season, said he’s 95 percent sure that this will be his last season after practice Thursday.

“I would say that I’m 95 percent sure, just in case” Gonzalez said. “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.

“I don’t want to be one of those players towards the end — nothing against those guys who’ve done it like that in the past — but I want to make sure that I’m at the top of my game when I do go out.”

Gonzalez has earned the right to take a Chipper Jones-styled “Rocking Chair Tour” around the National Football League, but who’s going to blame him for leaving the door slightly ajar.

He said he could play another three years.

But he’s rather just pass. The issue of his retirement has been a year-to-year thing for the last couple of seasons.

Gonzalez turned 36 in Feb. after signing a one-year $6.9 million contract.

Whenever he decides to retire, Gonzalez will likely have to wait the minimum required time period – five years – for his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Of the eight modern-era tight ends that already have yellow jackets, only one played longer than Gonzalez. Jackie Smith played until he was 38 and like Gonzalez, stayed around in quest of a Super Bowl ring.

After playing 15 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and making just two trips to the playoffs, Smith dropped a touchdown pass from Roger Staubach in the end zone as the Cowboys loss to the Steelers by four points in Super Bowl XIII.

The other Hall of Fame tight ends — Ozzie Newsome retired at age 34. Shannon Sharpe (35), Dave Casper (33), Mike Ditka (33), John Mackey (31), Charlie Sanders (31), Kellen Winslow (30) – where long retired before reaching 36.

Gonzalez has shown no signs of slowing down.

Last season he caught 80 passes for 875 yards (10.9 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns.

His 1,149 receptions are the second most in NFL history as he trails only the great Jerry Rice (1,549). His 13,338 yards rank 11th all-time.

The younger Falcons seek out Gonzalez and ask him the keys to his longevity.

“You learn from guys like Tony Gonzalez, John Abraham, and Todd McClure, guys that have been around and successful for a long time,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “You have to take care of yourself. You have to know when to push yourself. There are times when you need to go out there and push yourself and there are times when you need to take care of your body.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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31 comments Add your comment


July 27th, 2012
6:28 pm

Reason we need to win it this year for just like the Steelers did for Bettis


July 27th, 2012
6:29 pm


July 27th, 2012
6:49 pm

This years driving force is going to be for Tony! Amongst other reasons! Let him go out on top!


July 27th, 2012
7:16 pm

They should keep the city, the organization, and themselves in mind going into the season, not just Tony. It’s a slew of talented teams thinking championship this year and we are fortunate enough to be one of them. This could be a tragic or championship season and the line is so thin for so many teams that we could easily trip and have a bad 2012/13. I think this is going to be one of the greatest seasons in NFL history coming up and I’m hoping to goodness that our Falcons start and finish strong, while also making a run in the playoffs, and making it to the Super Bowl.


July 27th, 2012
7:18 pm

I’m 100% sure he’ll retire this year.


July 27th, 2012
7:34 pm

And he will likely end his career without a playoff win.


July 27th, 2012
7:45 pm

Anyone who thinks the Falcons are a SB contender needs to buy some beachfront property in North Dakota. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they don’t even make the playoffs. Just don’t see how this team has improved at all, so I will pass on the kool aid!


July 27th, 2012
7:49 pm

And, he will certainly retire without a ring…fact…should have played for a winner aka SAINTS!


July 27th, 2012
7:50 pm

We gotta do it for Gonzo this year


July 27th, 2012
7:54 pm

Bye! Yawn………
Its not about the Tight End! Its about this QB? Yes….

“FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons’ acquisition of Asante Samuel this offseason might prove to be more than just an upgrade of the team’s secondary. He also opened Matt Ryan’s eyes a little bit with some analysis.

“Yeah, he crushed me,” Ryan said, laughing. “But he has a way of crushing everybody. We played against him four times, and I think he had like three picks against me.”

“ICE MELT” is 4-10 against the winners the past two seasons! He is the {CHOKE MASTER} for real!

Shutdown[ zero points] on National TV by the 27th ranked Defense????????????????

A Buster from the word go for sure!!!!!!!

Mr Blank I heard on the “street” you have been looking for your next QB…Well keep looking cause this guy aint the one GRASSHOPPER!


July 27th, 2012
7:57 pm

Ocean front or beachfront?

Chipper and Tony will have at least a couple things in common after January….

Nah, Tony can still walk and talk!


July 27th, 2012
8:19 pm

HBCU Classics
2012 Pre-Season


QB Kameron Smith, WSSU

QB Greg Jenkins, Alabama St

QB Antonio Henton, FVSU

QB Greg McGhee, Howard

QB Deaunte Mason, Alabama A&M

QB Damien Fleming, FAMU

RB Isaiah Crowell, Alabama St

RB Mike Mayhew, NC A&T

RB Daronte McNeil, ECSU

RB David Carter, Morehouse

RB Kaderius Lacey, Alabama A&M

RB Travis Richmond, FVSU

RB Dawrence Roberts, Grambling

WR Lennel Elmore, SC State

WR Rico Richardson, Jackson St.

WR Chris Slaughter, FVSU

WR Robert Holland, Chowan

WR Eric Poole, Bethune

WR Travis Tarpley, Delaware St.

WR Justin Wilson, Delaware St.

WR Xavier Boyce, Norfolk State

TE Joseph Hawkins, Norfolk State

OL Terren Jones, Alabama St

OL Sanford Banks, Grambling

OL Corey Gwinner, Howard

OL Chris Browne, Southern

OL Blake Matthews, Norfolk St

OL Vincent Harper, Hampton

OL Sam Hammond, SC State

OL Steven Robinson, FAMU

OL Marlon Jones, Morehouse

OL Monterio Taylor, Miles

Respect Ray

July 27th, 2012
9:19 pm

Just Sayin.....

July 27th, 2012
9:36 pm

There goes Matty Boy’s first option.

Just Sayin.....

July 27th, 2012
9:38 pm

And all it cost the Falcons was a 2nd round draft pick.


July 27th, 2012
10:02 pm

Copy edit needed.

Chuck Clausen

July 28th, 2012
5:44 am

I remember as young assistant coach in the NFL, my third season with the Eagles we traded for Claude Humphrey – Claude made me a better coach and my younger players better players. Claude took detailed notes during film study and kept notes on all the offensive tackles in the league. Claude’s leadership helped turn us into one of the leagues best defenses

Michael M.

July 28th, 2012
7:26 am

One thing for sure is Tony Gonzales will be retiring with more money than all you Moron trolls will ever have put all together……..haha…………so you think he even cares what you think or put cheap shots out on a blog about him ?

Rise up? You mean FALL DOWN!

July 28th, 2012
8:01 am

Michael M is a loser…just like the FAILCANTS…..if you can’t beat us, join us…

Curtis Lofton and the Who Dat Nation

[...] Falcons tight end Tony Gonazalez said that he’s almost 100 percent sure this season will be his [...]


July 28th, 2012
9:41 am

Like to see Gonzo break that streak this yr. If anybody ever deserved to win a playoff game its this dude . Hella TE


July 28th, 2012
9:44 am

Certainly the Falcons will not go 16-0 in the regular season. But they will go 4-0 for November!!!

[...] an AJC article by D. Orlando Ledbetter, Gonzalez said, “I would say that I’m 95 percent sure, just in case.  I talked to my family this [...]

Just Sayin.....

July 28th, 2012
12:59 pm

Tony made his bed now he has to sleep in it, and Matt Ryan is his nightmare.


July 28th, 2012
4:37 pm

This bites, the only thing I bet, would change Tony Gonzalaez mind for one more season if we got to the Super Bowl and lost, Or the NFCCG and lost. Where we would at least give him a playoff he won or 2, but it would give him the hunger, to stay one more season to get that ring. :) Our top pick next year on 2nd rounder has got to be a TE, Wheres Dan Reeves when you need him, he drafted more Tight ends in the world, but at least he could pick some decent ones.


July 28th, 2012
4:39 pm

Just sayin your a idiot, Mike Mularkeys crappy playcalling was Matt Ryans nightmare, when ever we went into the No huddle offense and Ryan could call his own plays, Great things happened. When Mularkey called it, you wanted to go hide his playbook from him. lol . Man was Allergiv or petrified of a screen pass.


July 28th, 2012
5:46 pm

Noooooooo Don’t do it reconsider

[...] Future Hall Of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez indicates he’s nearly certain he’s retiring. [Atlanta Journal Constitution] [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]


July 29th, 2012
4:15 am

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[...] White warmed up for Monday’s afternoon training camp practice with a spectator standing nearby. Tony Gonzalez was present but wore just a jersey and shorts. It was obvious the 15-year veteran would be watching this [...]