Tony Gonzalez is a living legend amongst men, and Falcons fans are lucky to enough to catch the end of his historic career. Gonzalez has done so much for the Falcons during his five year stay in our city, and even though his last season has been disappointing (not because of him of course), Gonzalez has still been as consistent as he's ever been.
He has 71 receptions for 740 yards and seven touchdowns. Another great season from the greatest tight end of all time. Yesterday, he proved it again by entering a club that before Gonzalez, only had five members: the 15,000 yard reception club. Only Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Isaac Bruce have been able to accomplish this, and Gonzalez is the first and only tight end mentioned in this list.
"That was special," Gonzalez said. "Every time I get a catch now, it seems like they are saying it's another milestone. I guess that's what happens when you get old and play so long."
The Georgia Dome crowd was alerted of Gonzalez's accomplishment after he broke the barrier by nabbing his fifth reception of the game. Falcons fans, with respect and love, gave the great number 88 a standing ovation.
As a Falcon, Gonzalez has been just as good as he was as a Chief. The consistency in his mid to now late 30s has been simply outstanding and nearly unheard of in the NFL.
Here are his numbers as a Falcon: 4,068 yards, 34 touchdowns and 397 receptions. In the lexicon of Falcons tight ends, he trails only Alge Crumpler in touchdowns by one, and yards by 144. He has already obliterated Crumpler's reception record 397 to 316, and he's played on the team for two less years than Crumpler.
In a season lost to injuries, missed expectations and frustration, it was quite a beautiful thing to watch the Falcons and their fans enjoy a small moment of happiness. We sometimes get lost in the negative side of the game (especially when our team has a 4-10 record and were expected to compete for a Super Bowl) way too often, and aren't thankful for the good things. This is exhibit A. It's hard to even think of Tony Gonzalez sometimes when this team has been surrounded by so much inconsistency and blown assignments because he does everything so well.
He is the antithesis of the Falcons' struggles this year. He rarely drops passes and consistently puts up great numbers, and those of us in the media don't seem to acknowledge the good that Gonzalez does nearly enough because he does so without flare. He catches the ball, fights for every yard and does so very quietly. Gonzalez has an almost Tim Duncan quality with the exception of the goal post slam dunk he did so many times after scoring a touchdown. His production and professionalism is so expected, that it's hard to fathom that his time with the Falcons and the NFL is coming to an end.
For the last five years, we've watched the elite of the elite further cement his legacy in a Falcons uniform, and this year has been no exception.
Tony Gonzalez has been the difference maker in so many games and while he won't end his career holding the coveted Lombardi trophy, we've watched him do so many amazing things. Sunday was just another example of how grateful we should all be that we got to see the last days of a man who can truly say he was the best at what he did.
His final game is on December 29th against Carolina at the Georgia Dome. Here's hoping that the city of Atlanta is there to show the admiration and respect that Gonzalez so rightfully deserves.
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