That’s it. A whole career -- more than 1,200 catches, more than 14,000 yards, more than 100 touchdowns -- and for what? No playoff victories. Not a single one. I thought that, as the years went on, he would stare at his locker a little bit longer after each loss. I thought it had something to do with this: Tony Gonzalez sees himself as a winner. He KNOWS that he’s a winner. And yet, he hasn’t won.
He would tell me in his later years that he would not let the playoff losses define him. No way. He saw the way other players lived their whole post-career lives regretting that they never played in a Super Bowl. “That won’t be me,” he insisted. “If I don’t get the chance, I’ll be disappointed, but I won’t let that define me. I just won’t.”
But still, he kept coming back to the NFL, in better and better shape. He talked of retirement at 33. But at 34, he caught 70 passes. At 35, he caught 80. This season, he was an absolute phenomenon. He’s 36 years old and he caught 93 passes.
People keep asking Tony Gonzalez if he will REALLY retire after this season, and he keeps saying that he’s 95 percent sure that he will. Why 95 percent? Well, I think he can’t help but wait to see what happens in Sunday’s playoff game at home against Seattle. Gonzalez wants it. He needs it. He keeps saying this is the best team he has ever been on, and they are at home, and, yes, he needs that victory. He wants to retire, of course. He doesn’t even want to think about the pain if he loses in the playoffs again.