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Gonzalez: Pro Bowl fitting encore to cap career

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 24, 2014 at 7:10 pm •  Published: January 24, 2014

KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) — 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 percent 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.

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