NFL DRAFT DIAMONDS

Tony Gonzalez will play his last game in the NFL tomorrow

As Future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez exited practice Friday afternoon, he told the person chatting on the phone with him that he just finished his final NFL practice. Then Gonzalez assured the caller he wouldn’t renege on that statement. Yes, Gonzalez’s illustrious 17-year career will come to a close Sunday. And there is sure to be plenty of hype surrounding his final Georgia Dome appearance.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Gonzalez tear up a bit based on the magnitude of the moment and the likely reception he’ll receive throughout Sunday’s game. Gonzalez has 40 people coming to town for the festivities. “It’s going to be a little emotional,’’ Gonzalez said. He deserves a hero’s sendoff.

He had five catches for 77 yards before the Panthers clamped down, holding him to one second-half catch for four yards in Week 9. Look for middle linebacker Luke Kuechly to again be heavily involved. It will be an emotional game for Gonzalez, and the Panthers can’t let him control things.

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