Tony Gonzalez thought about retiring — but not for very long.

He looked back on a distinguished career the week after a bitter home loss to the Packers in the divisional playoffs last season. Maybe the grind of a 15th NFL season wouldn't be worth it.

Then, Gonzalez looked forward. The potential of the Falcons, coming off a 13-3 season and the top seed in the NFC playoffs, convinced the tight end to return. A conversation with coach Mike Smith at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii left no doubt. There is unfinished business.

Gonzalez, 35, has the numbers that one day will lead to enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now he is focused on chasing a bigger prize. He has never won a playoff game, losing in the first round in 1997, 2003 and 2006 with the Chiefs and last season with the Falcons.

"I looked at our team and how good it was and the guys that we have," Gonzalez said after a recent training-camp practice. "It should be exciting. Nothing is for certain. I've been on teams that went 13-3, and the next year we didn't make the playoffs. Nothing is given to us. That's one thing I'll be reiterating to the guys on the team. We have to go out there an earn it."

See, unfinished business.

This season may not be the end. From a physical standpoint, Gonzalez, who is entering the final year of his contract, said he thinks he could play "another three years if I wanted to." With the new rules of the collective bargaining agreement limiting padded practices to once a day, the league is on the same schedule Gonzalez has had the past several years.

"Our biggest thing is we know he is capable of doing some amazing things, and we want to make sure he is playing on Sunday," Smith said.

Gonzalez holds NFL records for tight ends in career receptions (1,069), yards (12,463), touchdown catches (88), 100-yard games (27), 1,000-yard seasons (4) and Pro Bowls (11). He is sixth overall in receptions and 10th in touchdowns. He is also 15th in yards, just 259 yards shy of moving past Art Monk for 14th place.