Tony Gonzalez, "The Ageless Wonder" as I like to call him, has made it clear that the 2012 season will most likely be his last season in the NFL. However, I am going to make a case for why he should stay with the Falcons for one more year, if not more.
Coming into this season, Tony G. was regarded as the best tight end in the history of the game. His career numbers as a tight end are among the top or leading in just about every possible offensive category. He has 1,188 career receptions, 13,726 career yards while pulling in 99 career touchdowns.
Many wide receivers can not even boast numbers such as these. He did most of his damage while with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1997-2008. His best season came in 2004 while with the Chiefs, when he pulled in 102 receptions for 1,258 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Fortunately for the Falcons and their fans, Gonzalez decided to leave Kansas City for Atlanta in 2008 in hopes of obtaining the championship that has alluded him so far in his illustrious career. And ever since his arrival, he has become a safety net for Matt Ryan when in trouble.
Gonzalez's veteran leadership and insane work ethic has also rubbed off on the receivers as well as Matty Ice since his arrival. By leading by example, he has helped Roddy White evolve into an elite receiver as well as a mentor for the explosive Julio Jones and other young receivers. Even though he has made the Falcons a much better team, they have yet to reach the Super Bowl.
But this season might prove differently. The Falcons are 5-0 and off to their best start in team history. Many people believe that this might be the year for the Falcons to go deep into the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl, especially with the Saints' bounty scandal and their appalling 1-4 record along with the Panthers and Buccaneers losing records so far this season, the Falcons are in good shape to earn the No. 1 or 2 seed in the NFC. The Falcons owe a lot of their early season success to Gonzalez as he is the team leader in receptions and the most consistent receiver so far this season.
After five games, Tony has 39 receptions for 388 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has caught at least 5 passes for no less than 51 yards in every game this season while catching a touchdown in all but one game. With these numbers, Gonzalez is on pace to have his best season of his career with 125 receptions for 1,242 yards and 13 touchdowns. This past week, he had possibly his best game of his career. Against the Redskins, Gonzalez hauled in 13 catches for 123 yards and one acrobatic touchdown. In his career he has only had one game with more receptions and that game occurred way back in 2004 while with the Chiefs.
So at 36, Tony G. is quite possibly having his best season of his career. Now if the Falcons do in fact win the Super Bowl this year, I will be more than happy to see him retire as a champion because he deserves to be one. But if the Falcons fall short, I will be one of the first in line to beg him to return for yet another year.
But no matter what happens, whether Atlanta wins or loses, or if he stays or goes, Tony G. will be a champion in my book.