Why Falcons Can Bank on Tony Gonzalez Returning in 2013
Tony Gonzalez said he was done with football following the 2012 NFL season, but since the Atlanta Falcons saw their season end in the NFC title game, there has been nothing but rumors that he could return for at least one more season.
Not from Gonzalez, mind you, but from the Atlanta front office. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff spoke up on the matter once again this week, saying that he believes “it’s a lot closer to 50/50” that Gonzalez returns for 15th NFL season.
While Dimitroff’s speculation to some may just be wishful thinking, I tend to believe him, and I also agree with him. Firstly, he admitted he’s had personal conversations with Gonzalez. If he truly felt Gonzalez was done, he probably would respect his wishes and let him be to make up his mind. But he’s done the exact opposite, and has been planting seeds all around a Gonzalez return throughout this young off-season.
It would be a great way to go out for Gonzalez, as he earned his first ever playoff victory this season, and only missed out on the Super Bowl by four points. That, and he had his best season by far as a member of the Falcons, tallying an impressive 93 receptions for 930 yards and eight touchdowns. Career numbers for any normal solid NFL tight end – but just another season in an illustrious career for arguably the game’s greatest tight end to ever hit the field.
It really would be a shame for Gonzalez, who turns 37 at the end of February, to walk away when he’s on a team that is so close to winning it all, while still personally playing at such an insanely high level.
Gonzalez fading away as a nothing man would make the decision easy, but still being a dominant force in the red-zone and moving the chains with regularity? Well, stepping away when you’re still doing that could be regarded as downright foolish.
With that in mind, Gonzalez has said repeatedly that he doesn’t ever want to fade away. He doesn’t want to end his career hurt or barely hanging on to his skills. He’d prefer to go out on top, still playing his best ball and leaving people wondering how much more he could have brought.
But the guy isn’t running on fumes. He’s kept himself in outstanding shape. He’s not an injury risk. His size, hands and route-running ability more than make up for sapped speed and explosiveness. In other words, there isn’t any logical reason to suggest simply turning 37 will suddenly have Gonzalez breaking down into the second coming of an old Wesley Walls.
The guy still has what it takes. The Falcons still want him (heck, they need him), and with him they’re arguably favorites to make it to the Super Bowl next year.
He could walk off into the sunset with what was very close to being the “icing on the cake”; the dream ending to a magnificent career. Or he could sign a one-year deal and finish the job with his teammates. Judging by the kind of guy Gonzalez is and the support he gets from his family, I can’t see him walking away just yet.