When Tony Gonzalez claimed to be "95 percent" certain he would retire last offseason, his Atlanta Falcons teammates convinced him to return for one last Super Bowl run.
If Gonzalez knew the Falcons would be contending for the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft instead, this swan-song season wouldn't have been worth his while.
The greatest tight end in NFL history insists he "can't complain about anything," even though his team has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs before December.
"I'm sure those questions are going to be asked a lot more as it gets closer to the end," Gonzalez said, via The Kansas City Star. "But for me, why would I want to change anything? Of course I want to win a Super Bowl, but at the same time I'm very happy with what I've accomplished and the relationships I've made over the years. Everything happens for a reason, and hopefully it makes me a better person in the process."
Whereas most league observers were skeptical that Gonzalez would go through with retirement at this time a year ago, there's a noticeably different tone this time around.
Gonzalez said he thinks about the end of his nearly 30 years of playing days "all the time ... every day."
"I'm never going to be able to put on these pads again," Gonzalez added. "It's a good, thing, too. It's going to be sad, but at the same time, it's going to be enlightening. It's a whole new chapter waiting for me. I can say that I'm going to enjoy these last five weeks."
General manager Thomas Dimitroff thought he was renting Gonzalez for one or two years when he surrendered a second-round draft pick to the Chiefs in 2009. Instead, the Falcons watched the "mismatch-makin' machine" perform at a Hall of Fame level for another half-decade.
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