January 16, 2013

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Why Tony Gonzalez is the Motivator for the Atlanta Falcons

By: Matt Bowen

The Atlanta Falcons finally won a playoff game, which has eluded them in the Matt Ryan era until their Divisional Round triumph over the Seattle Seahawks on January 13.

Can Matt Ryan take Tony Gonzalez to their first Super Bowl?

Now, they can focus on the task at hand.

The pressure of being the best regular season team since 2008, compiling a 56-22 record but going 0-3 in the playoffs is over. They have now shown they are a worthy No. 1 seed in the NFC.

All the Falcons need to do now is look at their future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez for motivation. Like Ryan, the win over the Seahawks was Gonzalez’s first playoff win. It’s hard to believe at 36 years old, with his credentials, he has never won until now, but it’s true.

You see, Gonzalez’s career lore is only growing—at this point he’s a living legend, his stature has almost reached mythical proportions. He’s almost like Superman—missing only two games out of the possible 256 regular season games in his lengthy 16-year career. Considering he plays the more physical position of tight end, that’s a rather jaw-dropping stat. He was the new-age hybrid tight end that is so popular across the NFL right now before there was such a thing.

His 1,242 career catches ranks second on the all-time list behind Jerry Rice’s 1,549. Gonzalez tallied an astounding 93 catches this season and has had 70-plus catches in 10 straight seasons. His 103 career touchdowns ranks No. 1 for tight ends and sixth overall. His 14,268 career receiving yards ranks seventh.

The Super Bowl is the ultimate goal for any NFL player/team and Gonzalez and the Falcons have unfinished business. Now that Ryan and the Falcons have hushed the critics, Gonzalez becomes the focal point. Sadly, this may be his last season in the league, as Father Time and the bumps and bruises of the NFL life eventually become too much for even superheroes like Gonzalez.

Even casual football fans will fall in love with Gonzalez in the coming days. He’s a class-act that every athlete should try to emulate.

Expect to hear stories of “Win one for the Gipper” style speeches coming from the Falcons organization soon. As the members of the Falcons sit in their locker room the rest of the season, the emotions that will be running through their souls as they peer at Gonzalez will be nearly overwhelming.

Not wanting to let him down, his teammates will reach never before seen heights in their upcoming NFC Championship Game.

When the Falcons host the San Francisco 49ers keep Gonzalez in mind. One can’t help but root for him.

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