The Atlanta Falcons have played some memorable football over the past decade. We’ve lived through two NFC Championships. We’ve endured an historical Super Bowl collapse. We’ve been honored to watch some truly dominant football players don the red and black.
Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez are two of those players. The conclusion of Turner’s career was ugly. Gonzalez, on the other hand, called his own shot. What’s interesting about both men is how relatively productive they were in their final seasons. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, they had two of the best last seasons in NFL history. (PFF did their rankings within a fantasy football context. They ranked Turner’s last season 5th and Gonzalez’s last season third.)
During his final season, at age 30, Turner returned solid RB2 production. As the 18th running back off the board in fantasy drafts that year, he actually finished as the RB18 in standard leagues. Turner also ranked ninth out of 24 qualifiers in elusive rating in 2012, and he forced a missed tackle more frequently than even the top running back on this list.
[Gonzalez] still brought it for fantasy owners even at age 37, finishing as the No. 2 TE in fantasy during his final campaign. In other words, right in line with his yearly production, although he did rank just 12th out of 18 tight ends that season in yards per route run (1.41). And while Gonzalez played 93 percent of the Falcons’ offensive snaps, he posted his second-worst grade of any season in the PFF era.
Most football players aren’t afforded the luxury of going out on top. For most football players, leaving the game is involuntary. Turner and Gonzalez can look back on their final seasons and be proud of what they accomplished. That alone makes them unique.