(UPDATED: 4:45 p.m.)
Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said Thursday that next season probably will be his last — though it’s not the first offseason he has said that, nor does should it come as a surprise.
Gonzalez, who last month signed a one-year, $6.9 million contract extension with the idea that the 2012 season might be his last one, oddly made Thursday’s declaration not through the team or his agent but rather on an ESPN/Facebook chat, which can be found by clicking here. He is in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl and has been doing interviews on radio row.
Approximately five minutes into the Facebook chat, Gonzalez was asked, “How much longer will you be in the NFL?”
His response: “One year. I said that last year though, and the year before. But I really do believe this is it. First of all, this is the first time my wife came to me and said, ‘You’re only going to play one more year, right?”
I’m assuming the Falcons were not prepared for an official announcement Thursday because the lead story on their webpage centered on cheerleader “Sabrina C,” who apparently was declared the “NFL’s hottest cheerleader” by the fans’ blog site, Bleacher Report. But it’s not the first time Gonzalez has done something like this. A year ago, he declared he was coming back for another season when he was on a talk show hosted by Jim Rome.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said he has not been told by Gonzalez that this definitely will be his last season, but he wasn’t concerned.
“I know that he’s done fantastic things for us since he’s been here, we signed him to a one-year contract for another season and hopefully he’ll continue to produce well,” Dimitroff said. “But no, I can’t say I’m taken by surprise. There wasn’t an understanding about the future. We were just taking it one year at a time.”
Gonzalez turns 36 Feb. 27. Dimitroff said Gonzalez’s comments won’t affect the team’s offseason plans. Tight end already was considered among the team’s needs, th0ugh most likely behind offensive line, secondary and defensive line.
In your view, how high of a priority should the Falcons make replacing him this offseason?
By Jeff Schultz