Everything in this season for
The only real disappointment for Gonzalez and his career is a lack of playoff success. In fact, the tight end has never won a playoff game, something he has in common with many of his Falcons teammates. Gonzalez reiterated on Thursday that he's back with the Falcons for playoff success and then some.
“The reason we went through the regular season, especially for me, is to get to this point," he said. "It’s the reason I came back. I was going to retire last year. But this is why you play the game and you always think about what you’ve been through in the past, the tough and heartbreaking losses that I’ve had in the playoffs. Hopefully, it is for a reason because it’d make it so much sweeter.”
While Gonzalez has never experienced the thrill of playoff victory, he's familiar with the bitter taste of defeat. In his rookie season he was on a 13-3 Kansas City team that was playoff bound, flying high on expectations. They never got a win and the career-long drought that followed is why this season is so special for Gonzalez.
"If I had won it back then, it wouldn’t have been as sweet as if I won it this year," Gonzalez said. "I know what it takes. I know what it’s like to go through a whole career of 16 years and never had a playoff win, let alone a Super Bowl. It’s tough but the ball is in our court. We can go out there and change it this year and hopefully we can.”
Gonzalez shared the devastation of a playoff loss, watching the opponent that just beat you on the other sideline celebrating and the only place you're going is home. He knows his teammates have felt that feeling. They don't have to look any further than the second-round loss to the Packers in 2010, a season with Super Bowl expectations and a 13-3 finish.
He's hoping this 13-3 finish is the start of something he's waited a long time for. Despite his and his teammate's personal and collective success this season, they're all going to be defined by what happens over the next month.
“You had a great season; you can’t take that away from you. You did some good things personally, but it’s about the team," he said. "That’s what it takes to win a Super Bowl. I don’t want that feeling anymore. Guys are too good. We’ve worked too hard. I’m sure a lot of NFL teams could say the same thing but hopefully this will be our time to go out there and shine and make it all the way through.”