Falcons’ Gonzalez bows out with sadness but no regrets

ATLANTA – Tony Gonzalez’s dream of ending his career with a Super Bowl vanished as the tight end’s Atlanta Falcons fell victim to a record comeback by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game on Sunday.

Gonzalez, a future Hall of Famer who has set many records at the tight end position during his 16-year NFL career, got his first career playoff win last week but the top-seeded Falcons were unable to give him one more.

“That’s probably the last time I wear that uniform, or football pads and cleats. I didn’t want to take the uniform off to tell you the truth,” Gonzalez told reporters after the 49ers set an NFC title game record by rallying from a 17-point deficit for a 28-24 victory.

“All good things come to an end and like I said all season long, this is probably my last one. But what an unbelievable ride. … I’m not 100 percent sure but I’m pretty much positive that this is probably it.”

Gonzalez, a first-round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1997, marked his likely final game with a 10-yard touchdown reception that gave Atlanta a 24-14 lead in the dying seconds of the opening half.

The Californian, who had eight catches for 78 yards in the loss, said he would not have any regrets about never reaching the ultimate game.

“I’m disappointed but you will not catch me complaining. It would be rude. I owe the game a lot. It’s given me so much and I’ve had such a great ride,” said Gonzalez.

“You can’t keep chasing a Super Bowl but if I ever did decide to come back, obviously you know where I’ll be – right here, an Atlanta Falcon.”

Gonzalez, the NFL record holder for receiving yards (14,268) and touchdowns (103) for a tight end, said he was pleased he would be able to leave on his own terms and not as a result of an injury.

“I’ve been very blessed, that’s why I said I cannot complain. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I’ve had a great career,” said Gonzalez. “I have no regrets, not one. I’m telling you that’s not the case with me. I’ve enjoyed this and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

There was however some sadness from his team mates that they were not able to give him the dream ending to his NFL career.

“He is one of the leaders of this team and the greatest tight end of all time,” said Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas. “You always want a guy like that to end with a Cinderella story.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith said Gonzalez had been a pleasure to have on his team.

“I can’t say enough about him. I enjoyed working with him and being around him. He is a super person, a great football player and he has rubbed off on a lot of people,” said Smith.

“I’ve learned a lot of things from Tony Gonzalez in the time he has been here in Atlanta.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

Read more :
  • IFA Shield: Prayag United beat Deportivo Saprissa to enter final
    Prayag United sailed into the final of the 117th IFA Shield for the second time in a row with a 2-1 win over Costa Rican outfit Deportivo Saprissa at the Municipal Stadium in Kalyani on Fri...
  • Broner gets title after jumping two weight classes
    NEW YORK: Unbeaten Adrien Broner became a champion in his third different weight class on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), beating Paulie Malignaggi by a split decision to take the World Boxing...
  • Guioguio wrests 3-shot lead with 70
    Lovelynn Guioguio charged home with late birdies to shoot a two-under 70 in driving rains yesterday and emerge the surprise leader by three at the start of the second leg of the ICTSI Ladie...
  • Venus Williams out of ASB Classic through injury
    Good news: Venus Williams has pulled out of the ASB Classic in Auckland next month due to ongoing health issues. The 31-year-old has played a number of exhibition matches recentl...
  • Sports Mole’s WAG of the week: Jelena Ristic
    Age: 24 Occupation: Finance WAG of: Novak Djokovic, world number one WAG since: 2006 There are very few accolades within the world of tennis that Novak Djokovic hasn't won. The Serbian ...
  • Xavi ‘will not be forced to play’, says Del Bosque
    Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque on Monday said that Xavi Hernandez will only play against France in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier if he feels ready to do so. The Barcelona midfielder, such ...
  • Andy Murray would ‘love’ Olympic gold medal
    Andy Murray has admitted that he would 'love' to win an Olympic gold medal at this summer's London Games. Despite hopes of putting an end to his search for a first Grand Slam, the world nu...
  • Joey Barton says Neymar overrated
    Controversial former England international Joey Barton sank his claws into Brazil starlet Neymar on Tuesday, taking to Twitter to dismiss the South American's abilities. "Neymar is the Jus...