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 :
  • Balotelli levels as Italy draw 2-2 against Brazil in friendly
    Daniele De Rossi sparked Italy's fightback and Mario Balotelli scored a superb second-half equaliser as the Azzurri battled to a 2-2 draw against Brazil in a friendly on Thursday. Luiz Fel...
  • SEVENS’ OLYMPIC INCLUSION A ‘DEFINING MOMENT
    PARIS: The inclusion of rugby sevens in the 2016 Olympic Games was a “defining moment” for a sport that continues to roll back boundaries in interest and growth, according to International ...
  • PVF to send squad to Thailand tilt
    THE Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) under acting president Karl Geoffrey Lee Chan is assembling a women’s volleyball team for the 2013 Asian Seniors Women’s Volleyball Championship o...
  • Leading players to get their way on doping controls
    MELBOURNE - Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and other leading tennis players calling for increased blood testing in tennis could get their wish in 2013 with the introduction of athlete biologic...
  • Neville brothers to coach England under-21s
    Phil Neville has joined brother Gary in taking up a coaching role with England after being named in the backroom staff of the country's under-21 side for this summer's European Championship...
  • 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...
  • Serena Williams defends US Open actions
    Serena Williams has defended her verbal outburst at umpire Eva Asderaki during last year's US Open final. The former world number one reacted angrily after Asderaki had ruled that h...
  • I-League: Mohun Bagan pip Pailan Arrows 3-2
    Mohun Bagan managed to pulled off a narrow 3-2 win over a resurgent Pailan Arrows in a closely-contested round 21 I-League fixture in Kalyani on Sunday The relegation-wary Mohun Bagan took...