If there's a NFL version of Mariano Rivera, it might be Tony Gonzalez.
Rivera is unquestionably the best closer in baseball history, as Gonzalez is the greatest tight end ever. Both are universally liked and respected, and like Rivera taking his victory lap around Major League Baseball, Gonzalez is adamant that 2013 is his last season.
No, really, he means it this time.
"Without a doubt, yes," Gonzalez, who said 2012 would be his last season but decided to come back, said on NFL Network. "Without question."
The biggest difference between Rivera and Gonzalez is team success (Gonzalez's lack of a ring is not his fault, just like Rivera isn't the only reason the Yankees won so many titles since 1996), and that's why Gonzalez is back.
Gonzalez said 2012 was his last season. Then Atlanta got to the NFC championship game and lost a tough game to San Francisco. He told NFL Network he "really meant that" when he said all last year he would retire. He explained that he wanted to spend more time with his son Nikko, who lives with his mother in Los Angeles during the season. When he talked to his family in the offseason, Nikko had the same thought as everyone else.
"He said, 'You know what Dad? You guys have a great team, I think you should go out there and try it one more time,'" Gonzalez said.
So Gonzalez is back. But this is it. Enjoy him while you can.