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Is Tony Gonzalez The Veteran Most Deserving Of A Championship?

There are plenty of athletes out there for consideration, but Atlanta's tight end should be on everybody's list.

For Tony Gonzalez, the team's bitter loss to the 49ers hurt even more.
For Tony Gonzalez, the team's bitter loss to the 49ers hurt even more.

As the Falcons continue their offseason preparation for the 2013 season throughout the coming months, there is no doubt that every single player is looking to bring a Superbowl home to Atlanta next February.

But there's probably no one praying for that outcome more than Tony Gonzalez.

He's accomplished just about everything a player can accomplish during his 16-year NFL career. The most all-time receptions and receiving yards for a tight end? Check. Thirteen Pro Bowl appearances? Check. A playoff victory? (Finally) check. And he is a sure-fire, no-doubt first ballot Hall of Famer.

And this is all especially impressive when you consider that, excluding Matt Ryan and maybe Trent Green, Gonzalez has been catching passes from some bad-to-mediocre quarterbacks (Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Elvis Grbac).

The one achievement missing from the above list, of course, is a Superbowl ring. And by all accounts, we reasonably expect this to be Gonzalez's final professional season.

So it could be argued that when examining his incredible career and the manner in which he has played and prepared for that success, Gonzalez is the player that most deserves to end his career with the Lombardi Trophy hoisted high.

And thankfully, Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg does just that on Extra Mustard's "14 Players Most Deserving of a Title" list.

He has done it with talent, but also with work ethic, toughness, diet and discipline. His practice habits are legendary; every dropped ball seems to stun him. Since whipping Tim Thomas in that NCAA tournament 16 years ago, he has missed one NFL game. One. Nobody "deserves" a title. But Tony Gonzalez has done as much as anybody in NFL history to earn one.

We would all love to see Gonzalez walk away from the game with a championship finally under his belt, and fortunately both he and the Falcons still have a solid shot at winning the Superbowl this season.

But what say you, readers? Is Gonzalez truly the most deserving of a championship? Or is there another player we've missed somewhere along the way? Sound off.