Tifton Gazette

Local Sports

December 27, 2012

Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez still considering retirement

FLOWERY BRANCH — Tony Gonzalez is still 95 percent sure he will retire at the end of the season.

Just don't try to pigeonhole the 13-time Pro Bowl tight end into giving more information about his future — no matter how many light years away.

"I see what you're trying to do," Gonzalez said with a smile Thursday. "Jedi mind trick."

Gonzalez and the Atlanta Falcons are trying to stay on task this week.

As the NFC's No. 1 seed, the Falcons want to end the regular season with a victory Sunday over Tampa Bay and then use next week's bye to get ready for a divisional round home game the weekend of Jan. 12-13.

Gonzalez said he isn't letting outside distractions take away from his or the team's preparation.

"This is why we do what we do, to be in this kind of position," he said. "It's important we go out and play well, finish the season strong and take it on to the playoffs. That's where we've got to be at our best, and I feel like our team is getting to that point."

At 36, Gonzalez continues to make enough big plays that he was voted to his third straight Pro Bowl in four seasons with the Falcons. He's been the league's No. 2 receiver since last season and is the most decorated tight end in NFL history, ranking first at his position and sixth all-time with 103 touchdown catches. His 14,227 yards receiving rank seventh all-time.

Gonzalez's physique, work ethic and preparation have factored into helping him thrive for 16 seasons, the first 12 of which he spent with Kansas City.

Though this week's Pro Bowl announcement hardly caught him by surprise, Gonzalez indicated that this bid felt special.

"The older you get, the more people start to doubt you," he said. "Just because it's human nature. You are getting old, (and) there is no way you can move around like you used to. I've been hearing, 'Oh, he's lost a step. He's not as fast as he used to be.' It's nice to go out there and play well and tell them, 'What do you got to say now?' That's part of the fun — proving people wrong."

To Falcons coach Mike Smith, Gonzalez still appears strong and healthy enough to play another two or three seasons and add to his Pro Bowl total.

"He's beating Father Time," Smith said. "He's shutting him out. He's playing at a very high level right now."

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