"That would be devastating because I don't want to go out like that," Gonazalez said Tuesday in a sitdown with Rich Eisen on "NFL Total Access."
Gonzalez added that he feels great physically, but he doesn't know how his body would react if it were forced out of football for a year.
"That would be the only reason I would more than likely not come back," Gonzalez said. "If we miss the whole season and I have to sit out a year, I just think, at 35, sitting out a whole year of football and waiting for it to come back, I just don't know if my body could. I just want to be smart about it."
Gonzalez recently completed his second season in Atlanta, this after breaking nearly every relevant tight end record as a star for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1997 to 2008. He has stayed in the loop on the labor situation through a network email chain operated by the players. He has stayed in shape by playing basketball three to four times per week.
Gonzalez thought about retiring after the Falcons were eliminated by the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional playoffs in January, but he decided he didn't want to leave a loaded team with the ability to get him to his first Super Bowl.
"We got a good football team, that's the first reason," Gonzalez said. "It's a great opportunity to go out there and handle some unfinished business."
And Gonzalez believes a labor deal will be reached sooner rather than later, telling Eisen there "absolutely" will be games played.
"How stupid would that be on both sides?" Gonzalez said, about the possibly of the 2011 season being lost.
Gonzalez also spoke about the upcoming NFL draft, saying he wouldn't hold it against any rookie who attended the event and shook NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's hand.
"It's a bad situation for those guys to be put in that type of situation," Gonazalez said. "They didn't ask for this. ... It just so happened the timing didn't work out for them."