Future Hall of Fame Tight End Tony Gonzalez Likely to Retire After This Season

Gonzalez likely to wrap up his Hall of Fame career after this season

11/2/12 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Sep 17, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) dunks the ball over the goal post crossbar after scoring on a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIREWhen asked about his great start to the season, Atlanta Falcons' tight end Tony Gonzalez was quick to credit quarterback Matt Ryan first and foremost. As Gonzalez made clear, the Falcons' signal caller is having a sensational year - of course, it's easier to find success as a quarterback when you have a Hall of Fame tight end to throw to.

Despite Gonzalez's praise of Ryan, his response to whether or not Ryan could keep him from retiring is not what any NFL fan wanted to hear. "Well, this is probably my last year," Gonzalez said. "The way I am looking for it I am preparing for this to be my last year. I am not going to go all the way. I keep telling everybody the number I'm giving on it is 95 percent sure."

Granted, Gonzalez has made comments on retirement plans in the past, only to return to play at a high level the following season. Gonzalez has no reason to retire, as he said himself, "There's no doubt I could keep playing for a couple more years at a pretty high level." So where does a 95% tag on retirement come from? He wasn't very specific, simply stating, "It's just almost that time."

Tony Gonzalez, drafted 13th overall in the 1997 NFL Draft, will go down as one of the greatest - if no the greatest - tight ends of all-time. He's made a staggering 12 Pro Bowls and has earned five First-Team All-Pro selections. That Pro Bowl total very well may jump to 13 this season, as Gonzalez is on pace for 105 catches, 1049 yards, and nine touchdowns in his age 36 season. Having amassed 1195 catches for 13797 yards and 99 touchdowns over 16 seasons, Gonzalez has certainly put together one of the greatest resumes in the history of NFL pass catchers.

Having his personal foundation adopt the Shadow Buddies Foundation - a group that works with hospitalized children - and co-authoring a book that lays out a healthy diet and exercise routine, Tony Gonzalez embodies as much class as any player in the NFL. With his extensive accomplishments on the field, along with those off the field, Gonzalez is one of the greatest individuals to come through the league. There's still a chance we could see him on the field next year, but if his comments were true, the chances are slim.

Gonzalez said he hopes the choice is made easy for him by ending the season with a Super Bowl victory. The Falcons have a legitimate shot at giving him his wish, and no one deserves that more than he does.
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