The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Gonzalez says 14th Pro Bowl a fitting encore to cap his career, up to players to entertain

  • Print

KAPOLEI, Hawaii - Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez thought he was done playing football a few weeks ago. Now, he says he's getting an ideal finish to his career with his 14th Pro Bowl.

Gonzalez said after practicing Friday that it's now up to players to put on an entertaining game to create a higher quality Pro Bowl.

"It hasn't been where it could be and where I think it's going to be this year," Gonzalez said. "It's up to us to go out there and put on a performance."

Players have to balance the game's demands while limiting health risks for their own teams and fans in a sport with lots of injuries, Gonzalez said.

"The thing people have to understand ... you just want to be healthy," he said. "We can't go out there and give 100 per cent effort, because it's not worth it."

Gonzalez has a Pro Bowl record 49 receptions. He finished his NFL career with 1,325 receptions, 15,127 yards and 111 touchdowns — all records for tight ends. He also had a tight end record of 31 games with at least 100 receiving yards.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten says he's learned a lot from Gonzalez over his nine selections to the all-star game. He says Gonzalez has changed the way tight ends are used around the league.

"We've had discussions and played together seven or eight times in this game, and he's somebody I respect," Witten said.

Gonzalez and Witten are the two most veteran Pro Bowlers set to play Sunday in a game that's become partly about age, depending on who's asked.

NFL great Deion Sanders said going into the two-day draft used to select the teams that he didn't want any all-stars with more than four Pro Bowls on his resume. Sanders picked one team, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice picked the other under the game's new "unconferenced" format.

The approach sparked spirited jabs from Rice and others, including Indianapolis linebacker Robert Mathis, on the value of picking veterans for the game. Rice wondered before the draft whether it was just a ploy by Sanders to motivate players or disguise a different strategy.

But Sanders followed through on his promise. The 44 players on his team boast an average 2.3 Pro Bowl selections, while Rice's players average 2.8 Pro Bowl selections each. Additionally, Sanders has 30 players playing in their first or second Pro Bowl, compared with 26 for Rice.

Rice says the ages don't matter — that the game is in the hands of the players.

"I have a great group of guys that's going to go out there and bring that old tradition back to Hawaii and I think they're ready to go," Rice said after a practice in which he played catch with San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers and mingled with players and coaches.

"I wouldn't say I have a more veteran team. I think I have a mixture of everything and I think it's the same thing with Deion," he said.

Sanders said he got exactly the players he wanted in the draft.

"We both played in the Pro Bowl, we know there's a certain point in your career where you get full and you're not hungry," Sanders said. "And some of these guys aren't. Unfortunately, that's a cold-hearted fact."

Oddsmakers in Las Vegas casinos say the game is essentially a tossup, with some casinos making Rice's team a small favourite.


Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Spring fashion trends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(Standup photo)- Humming Around- A female ruby -throated hummingbird fly's through the bee bomb  flowers Friday at the Assiniboine Park English Garden- Nectar from flowers are their main source of food. Hummingbirds wings can beat as fast as 75x times second. Better get a glimpse of them soon the birds fly far south for the winter - from Mexico to South America- JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Sept 10, 2009
  • A goose comes in for a landing Thursday morning through heavy fog on near Hyw 59 just north of Winnipeg - Day 17 Of Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


What Western Conference teams will emerge from the first round of the NHL playoffs?

View Results

Ads by Google