Atlanta Falcons

Tony Gonzalez: Falcons Tight End Is Smart to Walk Away While on Top

Jan 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA;  Atlanta Falcons fans display a sign for tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) after their defeat to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. The 49ers defeated the Falcons 28-24. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Chris TrapassoAnalyst IJanuary 22, 2013

If Tony Gonzalez retires this offseason as he's expected to, he'll be walking away on top.

No, it won't follow the conventional definition of doing so, but it's precisely what he should do. 

Honestly, how many players in any professional sport get the chance to ceremoniously end his or her career with a championship?

Not many.

Actually, very few.  

Plenty more once-superstar athletes have almost embarrassingly flamed out as individuals before making the decision to put away the cleats for good.

Let's call it "walking away on the downward spiral."

What's wrong with stepping away before a drastic decline in ability and production?

Many are pleading Gonzalez to stick around for another year, mainly due to how incredibly ageless he proved to be in 2012—93 receptions, 930 yards and eight touchdown catches were his highest totals since 2008.

That, and his team's potential.

Gonzalez's Atlanta Falcons went 13-3, earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, held a 17-0 lead in the conference title game and have significant talent on the roster, especially on offense.

But that shouldn't be enough to keep Gonzalez from planning the retirement press conference. 

It's a tough fact to face head on, but sometimes in a team game like football you simply never get the chance to hoist a Vince Lombardi Trophy regardless of how great of a player you are.

Heck, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon and Fran Tarkenton never won a Super Bowl, and they touched the football on every snap for their respective teams. 

We can't rule out injuries either. 

Gonzo doesn't need to go out via a concussion or torn ligament, does he? 

All he has done is carry himself as the consummate professional for 16 seasons, oh, and he'll go down as the greatest tight end in the history of the NFL

Go out on top, Tony. 

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