His Final Game: Widely viewed as one of the greatest players in NFL history, Tony Gonzalez suited up for the final time in Sunday's Pro Bowl. Gonzalez was named to the game as a replacement to 49ers TE Vernon Davis. It was his 14th time being selected to the game, which is tied for the most in NFL history. The future Hall of Famer caught 3 passes for a total of 50 yards for Team Rice.
"It was nice to be able to come back to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl one last time and end it out here," Gonzalez said after his team suffered a 22-21 loss.
A Glance At His Career: Gonzalez played football and basketball at the University of California, Berkeley. This athleticism which he displayed earned him a first round draft spot in the 1997 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He made an immediate impact on the NFL and earned his first Pro Bowl selection in the 1999 season, only his 3rd year in the league. Gonzalez quickly became the most dominant Tight End in the game as well as one of the greatest players in Chiefs history. By 2006, he had broken team records for receiving yards and touchdowns. By 2008, Gonzalez had passed Shannon Sharpe for 1st place in all time receptions, touchdown receptions, and receiving yards by a TE. He was traded to the Atlanta Falcons in 2009, where he continued his great play. He totaled over 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns in his 5 years with the team. Gonzalez is the all-time leader of Tight Ends with 15,127 yards, 1,325 receptions, and 111 touchdowns. He is 2nd in career receptions and most consecutive games with a reception with 211, trailing only WR Jerry Rice in both categories.
Will He Come Back (Again)?: Gonzalez was set to retire at the end of the 2012-13 season, but decided to return and attempt to win a Super Bowl. He made it clear that it would be his final year. While the Falcons posted a disappointing 4-12 record in 2013, Gonzalez still had a fantastic year. While drawing a double team virtually every time the Falcons were in the redzone, he still managed to grab 8 TDs and collect over 800 yards. Even as he has gotten older (turns 38 in February), his physical ability as well as play on the field has not declined. Amazingly, Gonzalez has only missed 2 games in his 17 years as a pro. He holds the record with most consecutive starts as a TE with 120. With this great play and sensational durability, Gonzalez will surely come back right? Not a chance. He has been adamant about not returning and said after the Pro Bowl:
"This is it for me. I had the privilege of a nice, long career in this league and I was blessed to have done so." He also uttered the phrase "No chance" when asked about returning.
So I apologize to all the football fans (especially the ones of Atlanta) who would love to see Tony G dunk one more football through the goalpost after scoring a TD. I also apologize to the fantasy owner who is trying to persuade his friends to trade a draft pick, or anything, for Gonzalez in a keeper league. Sadly, it looks like Gonzalez is done for good.
Comment and tell why you think he is making the right or wrong decision in retiring. Or let me know of any questions or comments you have and I'll get back to you.