Tony Gonzalez has said he's 95 percent certain the 2012 season will be his last in the NFL. A crushing loss Sunday doesn't appear to have changed his mind.
Though he wouldn't confirm his decision, Gonzalez sounded very much like a man who was done with the game after the Atlanta Falcons' 28-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
"I've been very blessed. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me," Gonzalez said at his locker. "I've had a great ride, an unbelievable ride. ... I have no regrets. Not one. And if there's anyone out there, media or anyone, (who) even think about saying that I'm going to have regrets, I'm telling you right now, that's not the case, and I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Gonzalez did his part Sunday, finishing with eight catches for 78 yards and one touchdown. Following his score, he dunked the ball over the cross bar, a signature celebration NFL fans likely have seen for the last time.
"I was ready today," he said. "I would love to keep playing, but that's the nature of the beast."
Though Gonzalez never reached the Super Bowl in his 16 seasons, his remarkable consistency makes him a virtual lock for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His 1,242 catches are the second most in NFL history behind Jerry Rice. He owns just about every relevant statistical record for a tight end.
What separates Gonzalez from so many other NFL greats is how he's leaving the game. Gonzalez walks away after a season in which he posted 107 catches for 1,059 yards and 10 touchdowns in 18 games. He remains among the best players in the NFL at his position. If this is indeed the end, it's an impressive way to go out.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.