KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Former Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez played his final game Sunday with the Atlanta Falcons, bringing to end a phenomenal 17-year NFL career.
And the Chiefs on Monday celebrated Gonzalez’s retirement by issuing a statement.
“On behalf of the entire Chiefs family, I want to congratulate Tony on an incredible career,” Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “What he was able to accomplish during his time in the NFL is truly remarkable, and I have no doubt that Tony is a first-ballot hall of famer.
“We were very blessed to have him in a Chiefs uniform for 12 seasons, and his contributions on and off the field were extraordinary and will never be forgotten. I want to thank Tony for his time in Kansas City and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. He will always be considered a part of the Chiefs family.”
Gonzalez played for the Chiefs from 1997-2008 before finishing his career from 2009-13 in Atlanta. He joined the Chiefs in 1997 as the team’s first-round draft pick (13th overall) out of the University of California.
The Chiefs traded Gonzalez to Atlanta in April 2009.
A 13-time Pro Bowler and six-time First-Team All-Pro, Gonzalez owns the NFL record for receptions by a tight end (1,325), receiving yards (15,127), receiving touchdowns (111) and amassed 31 100-yard receiving games.
The majority of his career statistics came in Kansas City, where he totaled 916 receptions for 10,940 yards and 76 touchdowns, adding 26 100-yard receiving games.
Gonzalez owns the record in team history in each of those respective categories and is the only tight end in Chiefs history to earn Pro Bowl recognition.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid personally acknowledged Gonzalez’s illustrious career during Monday’s media session.
“I’d like to just take one minute to shout-out to Tony Gonzalez, who is one of the all-time great Chiefs,” Reid told reporters. “He’s decided to hang up the cleats, although he probably could continue to play. The guy’s unbelievable that way.
“It’s a tribute to him as a man for how he handled himself as a person, and then obviously all the records that he set from that position. He’s one of the all-time greats; I’m sure a future Hall of Famer. I’m proud to have known him and still know him. I’m hoping he enjoys retirement and does as well there as he did on the football field, which I’m sure he will with that Cal education.”
A virtual lock to get in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Gonzalez finishes his career having played in 270 regular season games with 254 starts in his 17 seasons split between the Chiefs and Falcons.
He notched his first playoff career win last season with the Falcons.
Other notable statistics for Gonzalez:
• Started 174 games for the Chiefs, which ranks second in team history behind Will Shields (223).
• Caught at least one pass in Chiefs-record 131 consecutive games; Gonzalez finished his career with 211 consecutive games with a catch.
• First tight end in NFL history to record 16 straight season with 50 or more catches.
• Only tight end in NFL history to record four 1,000-yard season, all while with the Chiefs.
• His 76 touchdowns with the Chiefs rank second in team history behind running back Priest Holmes (83).
Update: Gonzalez tweeted his appreciation to supporters Monday evening:
What an amazing ride it’s been! Thank you to anyone who has ever rooted for or against me. I’ve enjoyed every second I’ve had in the NFL!
— Tony Gonzalez (@TonyGonzalez88) December 31, 2013