Matt Ryan's Prayers Aswered, Tony Gonzalez Returning to Atlanta Falcons for 17th NFL Season

By Michael Collins
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

It was never a question of whether or not Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez could still physically play the NFL game, it was always a matter of whether he truly wanted to continue playing in his heart. In 2012, Gonzalez gave a 95 percent chance that it would be his last season. Well, welcome to the 5 percent Atlanta Falcons fans.

Matt Ryan‘s pleas and prayers have been answered. He’ll have one more season of arguably the best tight end to ever play the game of football at his disposal, and the Falcons will have one more year to find a suitable replacement for the future Hall of Famer.

This goes way beyond being a boost on the field for the Falcons. Having Gonzalez make the commitment to come back for one more season is his way of telling the entire team, “We’re right there, we can do it this year”, something that truly has never been felt in an Atlanta Falcons locker room in the past. The emotional lift that this will give the team will be not unlike the one that the Baltimore Ravens experienced this year when Ray Lewis announced his “last ride” with the team.

In case you forgot, the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl.

There was always a feeling, or fear, that Gonzalez was going to hang up the cleats before his business on the field was finished. Last season, just giving that little 5 percent doubt was enough to probably put the brakes on a “Let’s do it for Tony” type of season. If Gonzalez gives a hard commitment that win or lose, this will be his last season, the Falcons will have an edge.

If you are a fan or follower of the Atlanta Falcons, and you’ve never gone out to the Georgia Dome (or any other venue) to see Tony Gonzalez play, then it would behoove you to do it this season. Every week, every game, Gonzalez seems to manage to do something–even if it’s just one spectacular catch–to make you scratch your head and just marvel at his athleticism and body control.

The Falcons were likely to be in contention to at least get to the NFC Championship game again. The return of Tony Gonzalez and everything that comes with it may have just made them favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Michael Collins is a Rant Sports Senior NFL Writer, and Atlanta sports columnist. Follow him @GaSportsCraze on Twitter and here on Facebook

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