When Tony Gonzalez came back to the Atlanta Falcons, he had envisioned that he would get one more crack in capturing that elusive Super Bowl ring. Instead of getting ready for the playoffs and preparing to continue being one of the best tight ends the NFL has ever seen, the 17-year veteran will be working on how to live life that doesn’t include or revolve around football.
Instead of having at least five more games remaining, the 37-year-old Future Hall of Famer will only have four games left, as his prestigious career is coming to an end. Gonzalez has broken nearly every record ever held by a tight end, and has dazzled the NFL since he was drafted in 1997 by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Gonzalez has meant a lot to this league, as he transformed the tight end position and took it to a whole different level. Though Gonzalez has impacted many around him, his presence for the Falcons has been special. Shortly after Gonzalez joined the team, he helped create one of the most explosive aerial attack in what is known as the “Dynamic Trio.”
As Julio Jones and Roddy White manned the outside, while Gonzalez took care of the inside, the Falcons saw the limitless opportunities to become one more exciting offense in the league. Unlike last year, the Falcons have been hit with multiple injuries since the beginning of the year, and Gonzalez’ desire in getting his first Super Bowl ring is all but gone.
Even in a down year, Gonzalez continues to produce like he has done in his prolific 17-year career. To date, he has 62 receptions for 653 yards and hauled in five touchdowns to lead the Falcons in touchdown receptions. He only trails Harry Douglas in terms of receiving yards, as he continues to turn in a great performance for the Falcons in an injury-riddled year.
For Gonzalez, nothing changes about the legacy he has created, despite not being able to win a single Super Bowl. His passion for the game goes without question, and his love for the game is seen every time he touches the field.
Though the end of the road is only four games away and then we’ll be saying goodbye to one of the most dominant tight ends during his generation, his impact to the position will be carried on by others such as Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates, Jordan Reed, Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.
Even though a players’ greatness is often measured by the rings he has accumulated throughout his career, for Gonzalez, he is defined by the way he revolutionized the tight end position and how he contributed to the next generation of great tight ends.
The end of the road is near for Gonzalez and his NFL career, but a new chapter in his life is about to begin, as his impact will always be felt whether he is on the field as player or on the sidelines as a fan.