Tony Gonzalez contemplating retirement if lockout lasts through season

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (R) makes a catch in front of Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason in the first half of their NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Atlanta, Georgia January 2, 2011. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez told NFL Network’s Rich Eisen that if there were no season in 2011, he doesn’t know if he would return in 2012.

“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.”

Gonzo has lost a step over the years but thanks to his high football I.Q., his veteran savvy and his nutrition and workout habits, he still plays at an elite level. If the lockout forced him to retire (and I don’t blame him for thinking he couldn’t take a full year off and then come back in 2012), it would be a shame because he’s one of the classiest athletes in professional football. He’s what younger players should aspire to be, not only on the field but off it in terms of taking care of their bodies and conducting their business.

As Gonzalez noted in his interview with Eisen, the Falcons are there. They have a solid core in place and if there’s a season in 2011 they will contend for another division title. Hopefully an agreement can be reached soon and we’ll see Gonzo donning red and black in a couple of months.

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