Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said late in the season he was 95 percent sure that he would retire after their last game, but Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is urging the future Hall of Famer to reconsider his decision.
“A guy who is 36 (years old) catching 100-plus balls (including the postseason), it just doesn’t seem like it’s time for him to move on,” Dimitroff told ESPN.com during a visit to the Super Bowl media center in New Orleans.
According to ESPN.com, Dimitroff has expressed his desires to Gonzalez in “very strong terms.” There is a slight possibility that Dimitroff and the Falcons will see the 16-year veteran return for another season. Gonzalez increased the chance of retirement to 97 percent after the Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks, which was his first playoff win. And after losing to San Francisco in the NFC championship game, he said that retirement was still the plan.
Dimitroff stated that the organization has made their case to Gonzalez about his importance to the team, but the decision is ultimately up to him.
“Tony’s a man and he’s got to make his own decision,” Dimitroff said. “Suffice it to say that it’s not going to be an easy decision for him one way or another because he knows that he still has fuel in the tank and it’s very legitimate fuel in the tank.”
There is no timetable for Gonzalez to reach his decision. But the sooner the Falcons know, then the better, so they can address their draft needs.
Gonzalez has set a new precedent for what a tight end should be. His numbers place him as the best tight end of all time. He is first in career receptions with 1,242. The next best is retired tight end Shannon Sharpe with 815. Gonzalez has 14,268 career reception yards, while Sharpe is next best with 10,060 yards. He has a total of 103 career touchdowns, while current San Diego Charger Antonio Gates trails him with 83 touchdowns.
If Gonzalez decides to give in to the three percent chance of returning next season, then he will have the opportunity to make another run for the elusive Super Bowl ring missing from his resume.