Kevin C. Cox
The Falcons have been hammering the Hall of Famer all off-season, and it appears to be working.
Tony Gonzalez told everyone he was 95% sure he would retire, or better, when the NFC Conference Championship ended. The Atlanta Falcons have spent the last month ceaselessly cajoling him in an effort to get that number down, and if reports are to be believed, it's working.
Gonzo was never a lock to retire because he's still playing at a high level, he's still remarkably healthy for a football player who has almost two decades under his belt and he seems to genuinely love playing for this Falcons team. If he went, it would be to pursue television work and go out on a high note, not because his body had failed him. It also likely from the very start that the Falcons would do everything short of kidnapping him to bring him back to Flowery Branch.
On SportsCenter this morning, Ed Werder said that Gonzalez is really wavering now, likely due to the relentless campaign that I can only assume involves Matt Ryan weeping, gnashing his teeth and rending his garments. Here's the quote, with a hat tip to Rotoworld:
"I'm told virtually everyone in the Falcons' organization has been campaigning for Gonzalez to make one more Super Bowl run," said Werder. "And I'm told that he's beginning to waver. The people who have spoken to him seem to believe that they're making progress. In fact, one player close to Gonzalez told me 'I think, if the circumstances are right, that Tony Gonzalez will return.'"
It's too early to start jumping up and down, perhaps, but anything that makes it likelier that Gonzo returns is good by me. The Falcons will have to get a little creative with their cap space to bring him back, sign the other players they need and not exceed the cap, but they'll get it done. Giving Gonzalez one more shot at a Super Bowl—and letting the team address other major holes on the roster this season—would be a gift to everyone involved.
Think Tony's coming back?