Falcons' Gonzalez bows out with sadness but no regrets

Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:06pm EST
 

By Simon Evans

ATLANTA (Reuters) - 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."   Continued...

 
Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez walks off the field after his team was defeated by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL NFC Championship football game in Atlanta, Georgia January 20, 2013. REUTERS/Tami Chappell