FALCONS NOTEBOOK: TE Gonzalez named PFWA Good Guy

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez will play in his 17th and final NFL season this year.

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez will play in his 17th and final NFL season this year.

ATLANTA — Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez has been named as the 2013 Good Guy Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America, the first non-quarterback to win the award since 2007.

The PFWA is given to a player for his professionalism. It was first given in 2005.

One of the league’s most popular players on the field, Gonzalez caught a team-high 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns at age 36, as the Falcons went 13-3 and won the NFC South. For his career, Gonzalez holds NFL tight-end records for career receptions (1,242), receiving yards (14,268), TD catches (103), 100-yard games (30) and 1,000-yard seasons (four).

In March, he announced that he was returning to the team for his 17th NFL season.

He had said before the 2012-13 season that he was “95 percent sure” he would retire.

“Throughout the season, Tony Gonzalez was more than gracious with his time in dealing with the media,” PFWA President D. Orlando Ledbetter, who covers the Falcons for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said in a statement. “He was frank and open throughout about his plans for retirement and how he wanted to proceed. He exuded style and class throughout his 16th season in the league.”

FALCONS SIGN VETERAN TE: With minicamp beginning, the Falcons signed veteran tight end Colin Clohery on Tuesday, according to his agent Sean Stellato.

“We are excited for Colin,” said Stellato of KLASS Sports. “He’s a veteran with some experience. He hopes to continue playing and plans to do whatever the Falcons need him to do.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the signing via his Twitter account.

Cloherty, 25, is 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds. He played at Brown.

He has played in seven games since signing with Indianapolis in 2009. He has also spent time with Cleveland, San Francisco and Jacksonville.

TRUFANT COMPLETES DEGREE: Falcons first-round draft pick Desmond Trufant completed his graduation work at the University of Washington and participated in OTAs on Tuesday.

Trufant, who’s expected to land the starting right cornerback position, worked out with the first unit and made several plays on passes during the non-contact drills. He missed the first six sessions while he was completing his college work and final exams.

“It was nice to have Desmond,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “His work is done at the University of Washington. He’ll be with us until we finish up in about two weeks with the rookies. It was nice to see him out here, getting caught up with everybody else.”

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and secondary coach Tim Lewis were also elated to get Trufant for the team’s last four OTA sessions.

Trufant and second-round pick Robert Alford received additional snaps because veteran cornerback Asante Samuel was excused from OTA session No. 7. Alford lined up at right cornerback and Dominique Franks played the nickel cornerback in the slot.

Falcons’ new stadium aims to become icon of Atlanta

ATLANTA — Backers of a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons chose a design Monday that is all about geometric curves, translucent skin and a roof that opens like a mechanical flower, hoping it will become the city’s architectural signature.

The team and a stadium committee of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority gave the stadium’s architect the go ahead to focus its efforts on a concept dubbed “Pantheon.”

In addition to the angular profile and retractable roof, it includes a wall of glass that looks toward the downtown skyline and a video board that encircles the roof opening.

“Certainly in our view (it is) a very iconic structure,” GWCCA Executive Director Frank Poe said. “It’s very notable. It’s flexible. The opening of the roof itself is very different and one that I think would be noted for a long time.

“I think it’s architecture that stands the test of time.”

Georgia Tech architecture professor Benjamin Flowers said Atlanta could use such an icon, at least aesthetically.

While watching the Weather Channel recently, he said, he noticed that cities such as Seattle, Chicago and New York all were represented by photos of famous buildings. Atlanta was represented by an image of the Downtown Connector.

“If you’re going to have a $1 billion project, it has to be something that creates an identity for the city as a whole,” said Benjamin Flowers, an associate professor of architecture at Georgia Tech.

The concept selection is the latest step in bringing the new field, slated to open in 2017, to life. Questions about the need for a new stadium and the process of approving it linger, but the project has steadily moved ahead this year.

The new building, at 1.8 million square feet, will be larger than the 1.6 million-square-foot Georgia Dome, which will be demolished after its replacement’s construction. Seating will be about the same at 70,000-plus.

Last week the Falcons said they have selected Atlanta-based Holder Construction and Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Hunt Construction Group to be general contractor for the project.

Both will require approval by the GWCC Authority at its monthly meeting today. If approved, the project’s architect, 360 Architecture, will prepare to begin schematics for the design, which are more detailed than a concept.

The concept called “Pantheon” — the name of a Roman temple with an opening in its domed roof — was one of two considered. The other, called “Solarium,” included a larger roof opening and more glass but lacked upper-level end-zone seats.

Robert Boland, academic chairman of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management at New York University, cautioned that creating a standout design is easier in the concept phase than later, when costs are calculated.

Under current plans the Falcons are responsible for about 80 percent of construction costs, while public bonds will be used for $200 million.

There are issues yet to be resolved, however. To begin more detailed work, the architecture firm needs to know the site.

The Falcons and the GWCCA prefer to build on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Northside drives, immediately south of the Dome. But they must first buy out two churches — Mount Vernon Baptist and Friendship Baptist.

Friendship Baptist leaders said last week they expect an offer from the city of Atlanta, which is leading the negotiations with the church on the deal. Those leaders could not be reached Monday.

Leaders at Mount Vernon also could not be reached. They are in talks with the GWCCA, which went into executive session Monday on land acquisition, but officials declined to speak about the discussion afterward.

In addition, Common Cause of Georgia is trying to collect 35,000 signatures from registered Atlanta voters to force a referendum on the use of $200 million in hotel-motel tax collections to be used to finance the stadium.