Gonzalez still considering retirement

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 27, 2012
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.'' As it's been since the Chiefs drafted him 13th overall in 1997, opponents struggle to defend the 6-foot-5, 247-pound Southern California native in man-to-man coverage because linebackers usually lack the speed and defensive backs lack the size to disrupt his routes. In last week's win at Detroit, Gonzalez caught just one pass, but that's mostly because the Lions decided to put two men on him and use their cornerbacks in single coverage against Roddy White and Julio Jones. White and Jones combined for 15 catches, 224 yards receiving and three touchdowns, big numbers that Gonzalez credits not only to Atlanta's wideout tandem but also to quarterback Matt Ryan's ability to read coverages accurately and check down to more manageable options before the snap. Gonzalez believes there's a good reason the Falcons rank fifth in passing, second in third-down efficiency and fifth in scoring average. ''The most important thing you can have with a quarterback is timing and anticipation,'' he said. ''He knows where I'm going to go before I go sometimes. And I kind of know what he's thinking as well and we work off each other, and it's a beautiful thing when it's going in the right direction.'' Smith appreciates Gonzalez's willingness to do whatever coaches ask of him. Such was the case last week when Ryan threw a screen pass to the left side for White, who outran the coverage for a 39-yard touchdown, but not before Gonzalez and left tackle Sam Baker held blocks to create space. ''Tony was the one who got it started, and Sam was cleaning up in the alley,'' Smith said. ''Once we got those two blocks, Roddy did the rest and did a nice job of running down the sideline.'' For all of Gonzalez's impressive career numbers, his ability to avoid fumbles has taken on a legend of its own. He hasn't fumbled since Week 16 of 2006, and the last time he lost a fumble was in Week 5 of 1999, a span of 217 straight games and 1,126 receptions. ''It probably will get noted for Hall of Fame stuff when they start talking about Tony being inducted,'' Smith said. ''His statistics are unbelievable. Touchdown catches, number of catches, what he does after he catches the ball. He's done a great job, and I think a lot of it is the work he does out on the practice field.'' Gonzalez is just pleased that he's reached Week 17 for what could be the final regular season game of his career. Winning a Super Bowl is all that matters, particularly for a respected veteran still looking for his first career playoff victory. Just don't ask him about coming back next season. ''Let's finish this year,'' he said, ''and hopefully get that Super Bowl ring.''
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Hall of Fame coach: Stephen Curry is the best of all time

Reggie Bush on NFL future: ‘I’m not retiring’

Derek Fisher blasts Rondo over triangle offense criticism

Report: Marshawn Lynch hasn't spent any playing money

Ex-King says he could do 'much better job' than George Karl

Trainer thought Thomas Davis would not play in Super Bowl

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Todd Gurley named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Durant, Westbrook on loss to Warriors: We're not scared

Report: Eagles interested in bringing back Nick Foles

Report: Manning hinted to teammates he plans to retire

Barry Sanders shares thoughts on Megatron retirement talk

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

Skip Bayless whiffed badly on Cam Newton prediction

Cam Newton doesn't disappoint with Super Bowl outfit

Stephen Curry to serve as guest drummer for Panthers

Charlie Sheen tweets advice for Johnny Manziel

Cardale Jones predicts he will play in Super Bowl

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

Marcin Gortat fires back at critic on Twitter

WATCH: Kerr told Warriors he was happy to have close game

Broncos could have tough decision with franchise tag

WATCH: Steph Curry does 'Dab' on court on eve of Super Bowl

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker