ATLANTA — It's official … mostly. One of the greatest NFL players ever apparently has done so for the last time.
Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez, who has tortured the Bucs since joining the NFC South in 2009, stated his intent to retire more firmly after Sunday's loss in the NFC Championship Game.
He will go down as one of the game's best tight ends and one of its most prolific receivers, period. He is second to Jerry Rice in receptions with 1,250, and on Sunday caught eight passes for 182 yards.
Gonzalez, though emotional, didn't waver.
"That's probably going to be the last time I wear that uniform, or football pads and cleats," he said. "I didn't want to take it off, to tell you the truth. All good things come to an end."
For Gonzalez, who will retire without having won a Super Bowl in 16 seasons, personal life trumped his professional one.
"I've talked about it with my family," said Gonzalez, who spent 12 seasons with the Chiefs before joining the Falcons for four. "My oldest son lives out in L.A., and I kind of want my family together. I love spending time with my family. I'm here six months out of the year and it's been that way for 16 years now, since college. … You can't keep chasing a Super Bowl."
CRABTREE SITUATION: 49ers WR Michael Crabtree told reporters he was not and will not be distracted by his involvement in a sexual assault investigation in San Francisco. ESPN.com reported that Crabtree, who was questioned, is unlikely to face charges. Meanwhile, TE Vernon Davis said Crabtree is a chief reason the 49ers are headed to the Super Bowl. "I'm just so thankful for him," Davis said. "He made a turnaround from out of nowhere. He's always had it but to have him be a (big) part of this team."
RYAN INJURED: Falcons QB Matt Ryan was injured on Atlanta's second-to-last possession, falling hard on his left arm. But leaving was never a consideration. "I was all right," he said. "Good enough to go."
BULLS IN THE HOUSE: USF football coach Willie Taggart, a longtime close friend of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and a former assistant to Harbaugh at Stanford, was in the 49ers locker room. That would make two of the three coaches in USF history: Jim Leavitt is San Francisco's linebackers coach.
FAN HURT: A man was injured in a fight outside the Georgia Dome and taken to nearby Grady Hospital after the NFC title game. The 35-year-old's name was not released.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.