Following a disappointing loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game a few weeks ago, veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons basically announced his retirement. Gonzalez started to come to grips with having played his final game with the Falcons and in the NFL, but now it appears there might be some hope in Atlanta for arguably the greatest tight end to have ever played the game coming back for at least one more season.
Although Gonzalez clearly indicated intentions to retire after the loss to the 49ers, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was optimistic about bringing the perennial Pro Bowler back next season. Dimitroff isn’t giving up on Gonzalez with the off-season now in full swing and believes there’s a chance he’ll return via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk:
“Tony has done so much for us on and off the field and I don’t believe, not stating that he would be lying to anyone, but I don’t believe the 95 percent,” Dimitroff said. “I want to believe it’s a lot closer to 50/50, to be honest with you, and we’ve had discussions. Obviously Mike Smith has had discussions with him. We’re all in a good place. Ultimately it’s up to Tony to decide if he wants to come back and potentially catch 100 balls again. I think it’s one of those situations that Tony was so effective for us down the stretch and I can’t imagine that his appetite wasn’t sort of whet from his contributions in the playoffs.”
At 36-years old, Gonzalez is still playing at the top of his game with a team-high 93 catches, 930 yards and eight touchdowns during the 2012 campaign. Despite having two of the best wide receivers in the game with Roddy White and Julio Jones, Gonzalez continues to show his worth and consistency to the Falcons by becoming quarterback Matt Ryan’s favorite target in the passing game.
Gonzalez will turn 37 at the end of February and seems intent on retiring, but with a hard push from the Falcons organization, plans to retire from the NFL after 16 seasons may very well change.