Kevin C. Cox
Fact: Tony Gonzalez has weapons-grade plutonium coursing through his veins
Back and forth. Back and forth. Or not. Tony Gonzalez doesn't exactly ebb and flow when it comes to his retirement.
All along, he's recited some variation of "I'm 95 percent sure I'll retire" when asked if 2012 will be his last season. Notwithstanding that consistency, there's something in us that pines for a more definitive answer. Yes or no would suffice. But that said, I could care less. He's a beast, and we've been incredibly lucky to have him.
''The older you get, the more people start to doubt you,'' he said. ''Just because it's human nature. You are getting old, (and) there is no way you can move around like you used to. I've been hearing, `Oh, he's lost a step. He's not as fast as he used to be.' It's nice to go out there and play well and tell them, `What do you got to say now?' That's part of the fun: proving people wrong.''
To Falcons coach Mike Smith, Gonzalez still appears strong and healthy enough to play another two or three seasons and add to his Pro Bowl total.
''He's beating Father Time,'' Smith said. ''He's shutting him out. He's playing at a very high level right now.''
Father Time is a bad dude. Like it not, he catches up with even the most committed, vegan, doo rag-wearing NFLers. If we win it all this year, Gonzo is gone. There's no better way to go out. If we don't win it all, I'd be surprised if he didn't give retirement a hard look. But in that scenario, there's also a decent shot he comes back. Why? Because he can.
Let's look at this from an objective perspective. We will need a TE of the future at some point. Some of you will argue that Michael Palmer or Chase Coffman can fill that need. Please don't take this personally, but if you feel like Palmer and/or Coffman can capably replace Gonzo, then you're wronger than Caleb in a leopard-print t-shirt. That player could come in the 2013 draft, and a year under the tutelage of the greatest ever wouldn't hurt. It's a win-win I think.
And here's where you come in. With one game to play, make your best guess. If you think this is it for Gonzo, regardless of what happens in the playoffs, then make your best argument. If you think he comes back for a victory lap or for one last shot, then explain your position.
Ready? Set? Discuss!