Maybe the greatest player to ever play for the Falcons is also about to become one of the greatest Falcons ever. You get the difference.
Tony Gonzalez, the best tight end the NFL has had, will be remembered more as a Chief than as a Falcon by most observers, even if very neat things happen next February. But his contributions in Atlanta are still likely to rank him among the best-ever Birds even though he'll only have graced us with five of his years.
And another solid year will make it even harder for, say, Jason Witten to make a run at those all-time tight end records.
To see where he could rank, let's pencil Gonzalez in for 75 catches, 750 yards, and six touchdowns. That would be a smidge behind his current Atlanta average of 81.5 catches, 832 yards, and 6.75 scores, but the man's going to be nearly 38 in January. I'm 31 and can assure you that crossing 30 is kind of like beginning a stringent regimen of anti-steroids, so doing this s--- at 38 sounds about as conceivable as squatting the moon. Plus certain acquisitions could make the team slightly less desperate for his third down miracles - Steven Jackson's pretty good on third downs, for instance. But anyway.
(SIDE NOTE: More should be made of the fact that bringing on Jackson would mean two of the three best Oregon State backs ever being in the same NFL backfield, maybe even at the same time. Dam! Like a beaver.)
Such a season would rearrange certain record books as follows:
Other non-retired players in italics.