The lights on the Raymond James Stadium scoreboard had barely cooled before speculation swirled around tight end Tony Gonzalez
In a post-game interview Gonzalez, the league’s all-time leader in almost every category among tight ends, used the phrase “if I’m back here” when talking about getting his 1,000th career catch in 2010. He has 999 career receptions, already the most of any tight end in league history.
Head Coach Mike Smith and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said Gonzalez, who is under contract with the Falcons after a 2009 trade with the Chiefs, will be back.
Wednesday in a Falconcast interview Gonzalez confirmed it himself.
“I’ll be around for sure next season,” said the 13-year veteran, who finished the year with 83 catches for 867 yards and six touchdowns.
“You don’t ever want to make a decision right after the season is over. Now that I’ve had a chance to get away from the game a little bit and talk to my family, I’m definitely going to be around for next year. I’m excited about the direction this team is going in. We’ve got a really good football team and I really do believe this could be the best football team I’ve ever played on coming up next year.”
Gonzalez, speaking via phone from his office in California, also talked about his new business venture in the world of nutrition. He’s the man behind All Pro Science, a line of supplements that support many of the topics in his book, The All-Pro Diet.
As for the historic 1,000th catch?
“I’m starting the season off with a bang,” he said. “It’s something that obviously means a lot to me. Hopefully we’ll win the game. That would be the best celebration for me, go ahead and get that catch the first game of the season and get a win in the first game of the season.”
With the catch he’ll become one of seven players in NFL history with 1,000 grabs. Also in 2009 Gonzalez tied for sixth in the league in third-down receptions (26). He has at least one catch in 147 straight games and holds the Falcons single-season record for receptions by a tight end.