Atlanta Falcons: Legacy of Tony Gonzalez

By Robert Cooke

As NFL fans watch future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons in what he’s said will be the final year of his career, one can’t help but look back at the truly great career he has had.

Drafted in 1997 by the Kansas City Chiefs, Gonzalez was a two-sport athlete, excelling in both football and basketball at Cal-Berkeley.

Gonzalez led the Chiefs in receptions and receiving yards multiple seasons, and was the only bright spot on a struggling Chiefs offense for years.

Gonzalez came to the Falcons in 2009 as a free agent in hopes of a shot at a Super Bowl title, after playing for a Chiefs team that failed to win a playoff game during his time there.

He has been the go to guy for quarterback Matt Ryan and has consistently been one the best players in football at moving the chains for first downs. Defenses have had to prepare strictly for him for years.

A 13-time pro bowler in 17 professional seasons, Gonzalez is a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer, owning every single receiving record for tight ends, not to mention being second all time in catches with 1,265 and sixth all time in total receiving yards and 200 total touchdowns, second to only Jerry Rice who has 208. Gonzalez could break that record this season.

Many believe that his ability to play basketball made him a better football player, always able to catch the jump ball and having such sure hands; not only is he the greatest tight end of all time, he’s also one of the greatest pass catchers in the history of the game.

As the Falcons are struggling through the first few weeks of the season and their shot at a playoff spot less and less foreseeable, this may truly be the season that Gonzalez hangs it up.

“You can’t keep chasing it,” Gonzalez said. “You can’t. I’ve chased it long enough. I’ve tried and I think I’ve chased it about three or four years longer than I thought I would. This is it.”

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