Maybe Tony Gonzalez will change his mind. Maybe he'll get bored in a few months' time. Maybe he'll pull a Brett Favre and return to the game of football only after he's dodged the physical pain and stress of training camp and the preseason. But one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history insists that he's "probably" retiring after the Atlanta Falcons were knocked out of the playoffs Sunday by the San Francisco 49ers.
If indeed he's done after 16 NFL seasons, here are 10 stats that help tell the story of Gonzalez's career.
1,242: That's how many catches Gonzalez had during his 16 seasons. No NFL player had more than 1,043 during that same span, and it's the second-highest total in NFL history. That's 427 more receptions than the next tight end on the list, Shannon Sharpe.
14,268: That's how many receiving yards Gonzalez accumulated in his 16 seasons. Only Terrell Owens and Randy Moss have posted higher numbers during that span, and it's the seventh-highest total in NFL history. That's 4,208 more yards than the next tight end on the list, Sharpe.
103: That's how many touchdown catches Gonzalez had in his 16 seasons. Only Owens, Moss and Marvin Harrison posted more during that span, and it's the sixth-highest total in NFL history. That's 20 more than the next tight end on the list, Antonio Gates.
1: That's how many playoff games Gonzalez won in 16 seasons. He played in 256 games and won 136 of them, but his 136th and final victory was his only playoff win. His final game was his only Conference Championship appearance. He obviously never made a Super Bowl.
2: That's the total number of games Gonzalez missed in 16 years. After missing a game against the Raiders on Nov. 19, 2006 due to a shoulder injury, Gonzalez played in 102 straight regular-season games to finish his career. Prior to that, he had started 120 straight games, which is also a tight end record for consecutive starts. So that's two separate streaks of 100 or more starts in a row.
13: That's how many Pro Bowls Gonzalez made. He's been voted to the game each of the last three years. Jerry Rice, Reggie White and Ray Lewis were also selected to appear in 13 Pro Bowls, and only Hall of Famers Merlin Olsen and Bruce Matthews made the cut the cut more (14 each).
7: That's the number of starting quarterbacks Gonzalez worked with in 12 seasons with the Chiefs. Kellen Winslow had Dan Fouts as his primary quarterback in all nine of his seasons. For Antonio Gates, it's just been Philip Rivers and Drew Brees for 10 years. Johnny Unitas started 107 of John Mackey's 139 career games. John Elway started all but 11 games during the first nine seasons of Shannon Sharpe's career. Drew Bledsoe was Ben Coates' quarterback in 105 of his 142 games in New England.
13: That's the total number of games in which Gonzalez had 10-plus catches. Sharpe had just six. Gates has three. Coates had five. Ozzie Newsome had four. Only seven players have more double-digit-catch games under their belts.
4: That's how many 1,000-yard seasons Gonzalez had. Tight ends only accomplished that feat a grand total of seven times between 1980 and 1999. Sharpe hit that mark three times, but no tight end ever hit the quadruple digits four times.
13: That's how many times Gonzalez caught at least 70 passes in a season. Only he and Jerry Rice have hit the teens in that category.
I admire Tony not only for the stats but for the classy way he behaves. He's a great man. I wish him all the best if he should retire this year or if he comes back. After watching all the guys who act obnoxious and should be in cages between games, it is wonderful to see a man play the game in such a way as to be a great example for all the kids watching. I think that's really important. Go, TONY!!!
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By Keith Potter
Great post. Hard to tell which stat is the most impressive. But two games in 16 seasons might be it. Incredible.