Top 50 Falcons: No. 15, Tony Gonzalez

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
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Top 50 Falcons: No. 15, Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

Tony Gonzalez spent his final five seasons in Atlanta from 2009 to 2013 after playing 12 years in Kansas City. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is counting down the Top 50 players in Atlanta Falcons history during the franchise’s 50th anniversary season. No. 15 is tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Years played for Falcons: The greatest tight end in NFL history and sure-fired Hall of Famer, Tony Gonzalez, spent his final five seasons in Atlanta from 2009 to 2013 after playing 12 years in Kansas City. Gonzalez ranks fifth all-time in league history with 15,127 yards receiving and second in receptions with 1,325.

Jersey No.: 88

His impact on the team: The addition of Gonzalez in 2009 instantly made the Falcons into a perennial playoff team. A 2010 second-round pick was all it took to land the veteran tight end. Once Atlanta drafted Julio Jones in 2011, the Falcons boasted one of the best pass catching trios the league had seen in years with Jones, Gonzalez and Roddy White. The explosive Falcon offense helped the team to its most successful run in franchise history, making three straight playoff appearances and a trip to the conference championship in 2012. Gonzalez recorded 4,197 yards, 409 catches and 35 touchdowns in his Atlanta tenure. The 14-time Pro Bowl tight end (tied for NFL record) and six-time First Team All-Pro announced his retirement following the 2013 season.

On ever playing again in the NFL: “Some teams reached out to me. A couple teams. I’m not going to name who they were. I’m about 230 pounds now. I’m afraid I would get crushed out on the football field now.” (Pro Football Talk)

On whether seeing his old team up close made him want to return: “No, not at all. The second game of the season, for Thursday Night Football, we did Atlanta against Tampa Bay and that was my first time back at the dome. Even then, I’m talking like a 2 percent urge to get out there.” (Pro Football Talk)

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

Since last running onto the field with the Falcons in 2013, Tony Gonzalez has kept a busy media schedule. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

On his documentary “Play It Forward”: “It’s a film that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you cheer. I’m pretty proud of what we were able to put on film.” (Los Angeles Times)

Where he is now: Gonzalez, 39, now works for CBS on the NFL pregame show, NFL Today. He has done numerous things in the community and has since co-authored a book (“The All-Pro Diet”), host TV shows (“You Can’t Lick Your Elbow”) and released a documentary along with his older brother Chris, called “Play It Forward,” which debuted this year at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The countdown to the Top 50 players in Falcons history runs through the end of the season.

Top 50 Falcons Countdown

50: Chuck Smith
49: Michael Haynes
48: Jonathan Babineaux
47: John Zook
46: Ken Reaves
45: Lynn Cain
44: Justin Blalock
43: Bobby Butler
42: Tim Mazzetti
41: Buddy Curry
40: Scott Case
39: Jeff Merrow
38: Elbert Shelley
37: Matt Bryant
36: Alge Crumpler
35: Michael Turner
34: Ray Buchanan
33: Chris Hinton
32: Terance Mathis
31: Devin Hester
30: Don Smith
29: Greg Brezina
28: Chris Miller
27: John James
26: Bob Whitfield
25: Rolland Lawrence
24: Alfred Jenkins
23: Billy Johnson
22: Chris Chandler
21: Morten Andersen
20: John Abraham
19: George Kunz
18: Jamal Anderson
17: Keith Brooking
16: R.C. Thielemann
15: Tony Gonzalez

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