Entering his 16th season in the National Football League, Tony Gonzalez is already a first-ballot Hall of Famer and is arguably the greatest tight end to ever play the sport. Not much argument could be made to either of those statements, but the one thing that has eluded the star has been a Super Bowl trophy. That is one thing he will try to change in what is likely the final season of his career. How has his career fared thus far and what can fans of the Atlanta Falcons look forward to in 2012?
Gonzalez spent just a single year in college playing football at California, but did enough to show the Chiefs what they could get in the future. He made 44 catches for 699 yards and five touchdowns during his time with the Pac-10 (Pac-12) team.
The Chiefs used the 13th pick in the 1997 NFL Draft to select Gonzalez. His play at California made the Chiefs believe he was going to be a star and he has done nothing throughout his career to make anyone feel differently. In 12 seasons with Kansas City, Gonzalez was unstoppable. He made 916 catches for 10,940 yards and 76 touchdowns. In 2004, he led the NFL in receptions with 102 and appeared in 10 straight Pro Bowls from 1999 through 2008.
Before the 2009 season, Gonzalez found himself with the Falcons in search of the elusive Super Bowl title. The team made the playoffs in the past two seasons, but their postseason struggles have kept Gonzalez away from the Super Bowl. He has made 233 catches for 2,398 yards and 19 touchdowns, which is down compared to any three season total during his career, but with this offense, he isn't relied upon as heavily to keep the ball moving.
There are major hopes for the 2012 Falcons and Gonzalez is a big part of that. Just like the Atlanta Braves are trying to send Chipper Jones out of baseball with a World Series championship, the Falcons would love to do the same with Gonzalez. The Falcons offense is one of the best and Gonzalez should be able to get open down the middle with ease because of it and still produce at a high level.
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Hobson Lopes is a fan of the Atlanta Falcons, thanks to Deion Sanders and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.
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