Top 50 Falcons: No. 15, Tony Gonzalez

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)

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