"Hey y'all, I'm comin back." -Tony Gonzalez, I hope - Streeter Lecka
Sean Weatherspoon thinks the best tight end in NFL history is returning for one more season. Is he right?
Some football players just don't know when to hang up their cleats for good. Brett Favre forced us to endure his never-ending media show for years, constantly wavering in his "final" decision on retirement. Tony Gonzalez, we can only hope, will do the same.
Gonzalez finished what could have been his final game as a pro with eight receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown against one of the better defenses in the league. To say he's past his prime would be a blasphemous remark worthy of losing a hand over, at least according to Game of Thrones standards.
This season we saw a 36-year-old tight end destroy just about every opponent he faced. He ended his 2012 campaign with 93 receptions for 930 yards and eight touchdowns, all personal bests since venturing to our fair city. It's rather remarkable to see a player of his age with so much energy still left in the tank. He honestly doesn't look like he's lost a step.
Of course the thought of Gonzalez's retirement lingered in the back of our minds throughout the year. It was occasionally brought up in interviews, but nothing substantial ever came of those talks. He began the season saying he was 99 percent sure this was it for him. At least, I think he said 99 percent. Maybe I just made that up.
Regardless, during the season Gonzalez started saying there was a five percent chance he would return. If the Falcons went on the win the Super Bowl, he seemed completely confident he'd retire right after that point.
But they didn't, and he is left with a tougher decision. Here's what he said after the NFC Championship.
"It's probably the last time I'm going to wear that uniform," Gonzalez said, choking up. "I didn't want to take it off, to tell you the truth. All good things come to an end and, like I said all season long, this is probably my last one. What an unbelievable ride."
He also threw his mind is "pretty much" made up.
"I think he's coming back," Weatherspoon said. "I think if we had a bad year, he wouldn't come back. But we had a great year, so I think we are right there."
The Falcons want Gonzalez back. Atlanta wants Gonzalez back. Gonzalez wants Gonzalez back, probably. Do you really think he's content with one playoff victory? That small taste of success surely creates a desire for more. Coming up just yards short of Super Bowl appearance makes it clear this team possesses the potential for another run.
Matt Ryan will be another year into his prime. Roddy White and Julio Jones will still be arguably the best receiver duo in the league. The defense will hopefully be able to add a few important pieces. A return for Gonzalez would only ensure their potential at similar success.
In my mind, I don't think Gonzalez will be able to walk away after what transpired. He knows the Falcons can make it to the Super Bowl, and he doesn't want to go out wondering what might have been, one would presume. I think Tony Gonzalez will be back in 2013. Do you?