No buts — Tony Gonzalez believes Falcons can win it all

Tony Gonzalez went over 1,000 career catches this season but his ultimate goal isn't about a number but a ring. (AP photo)

Tony Gonzalez went over 1,000 career catches this season but personal achievements don't carry the weight they used to.

In this overanalyzed, blog-til-you-drop, 24/7, Tweet Tweet media world, it’s not surprising that most commentaries about the Falcons generally boil down to these few words: “They’re really good, but…”

That’s what the NFL has become. Teams fall into three categories: 1) Laughable disaster (Dallas Cowboys); 2) Just OK; and 3) “They’re really good, but …”

New England just got whacked by Cleveland. Pittsburgh has lost twice and needed a late field field to beat Miami. The New York Giants were drilled in consecutive losses to Indianapolis and Tennessee (combined score: 67-24). You’re going to nit-pick the Falcons for being 6-2 and having lousy special teams in a win over Tampa Bay for the NFC South Division lead?

The Falcons are a potential Super Bowl team. The record says it. The landscape screams it. Tony Gonzalez thought this before the season and he believes it more than ever — more than last season when he was traded to Atlanta, crying to get out of the wasteland of Kansas City; more than when the Falcons began the year 4-1 (only to fizzle); more than even in July when he saw the collection of players in training camp and realized the possibilities.

“We have the players,” he said. “You can have great coaches and Xs and Os and all that, but it really comes out to players going out and making plays for you.”

If Gonzalez is paying a little more attention to the big picture than others, there’s an obvious reason. He’ll be 35 in February. He can see the end. He briefly considered retirement after last season and he’ll do the same after this year. He doesn’t want the career gravestone to read, “He was a great player, but …”

Gonzalez played in only three playoff games in Kansas City. Lost them all.

He came to Atlanta and had 83 receptions, two behind team leader Roddy White. But the 4-12 Chiefs played in as many playoff games as the 9-7 Falcons. After last year’s 2-6 skid, Gonzalez admits he briefly thought: “Man, I gotta go through this stuff again?’” But he soon convinced himself the potential for a title was still there.

Any postseason success would be an improvement. But: “If we made it to the playoffs and won the first game but lost the second, I’m not sure I would feel that much better,” he said. “I want to win the Super Bowl. I want to see the confetti drop at the end of the year.”

We’ll find out a little more about the Falcons Thursday night when they play Baltimore. As Gonzalez said, “It’s a good chance to see how we stack up against one of the best.”

Win this game on national television and watch how quickly the Falcons become the flavor of the month.

When a player is in his 14th season, the objectives change. Individual honors become an afterthought. He went over 1,000 career catches this season but that was a foregone conclusion. When NFL Films came out with a list of the all-time top 100 NFL players last week, Gonzalez checked in at No. 45, but he barely blinked. John Mackey, the lone tight end on the list ahead of Gonzalez, won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts. The first one behind him, Mike Ditka (59th overall), won Super Bowls as a player and coach in Dallas and Chicago. That’s what stands out to Gonzalez.

“I don’t want to be that guy [who's in the Hall of Fame without a title],” he said.

And if it happened?

“I know this is the ultimate team sport. I hope it doesn’t happen. But if I did retire without a Super Bowl ring, I wouldn’t think I had any less of a career. I’m glad I can say that. It’s taken me a while to get to that point.”

It’s just not the punctuation he’s looking for.

“I look at us now and think the sky’s the limit,” he said. “Why not us?”

Earlier posts

Hawks show promise (and Crawford for Prince? Please no)

♦  Wade Phillips fired; Cowboys’ problems are gift for Falcons

Cleveland is happy to tell LeBron what he should do (with video)

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

78 comments Add your comment

JSS

November 9th, 2010
4:12 pm

What would he (Gonzalez) know of winning it all? He’s never seen the 2nd of anything but the NCAA Tournament at Cal!

DirtyByrd ATL

November 9th, 2010
4:16 pm

DirtyByrd ATL

November 9th, 2010
4:16 pm

We can too…remember 2001 Patriots…

Jeff Schultz

November 9th, 2010
4:24 pm

JSS — Maybe Todd Bozeman put a hex on him.

The Natue Boy

November 9th, 2010
4:28 pm

I know the game is on National TV….but I wonder what the viewership numbers are for an NFL network game on a Thurs. night compared to a Monday night game…??

JSS

November 9th, 2010
4:29 pm

I like Gonzalez, I really do… Winslow and Newsome were better Tight Ends. They were better competitors too. Still, I won’t diminish him, he can make a place in Canton. (which I think is his prime motivation) like Ray Bourque did in the Hockey Hall of Fame… Bobby Orr was the greatest player regardless of sport I ever saw. Borque was the finest defensemen of his time (two way). Winslow is the best TE I ever saw (two way), Newsome was a distant 2nd. TG is a far 3rd. Mackay and Smith were very good. Ditka had been slowed by the time I saw him at the end of his career.

JSS

November 9th, 2010
4:31 pm

Todd Bozeman put a hex on himself!!!

5150 P.O.A.D

November 9th, 2010
4:43 pm

Jeff I LOVE you! Great choice for the picture. The HOT HOT Booty Shake on the sidelines girl in the PINK top was a great choice. For the COUNT bring him back and the Hot Chicks too.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RPC, Sean Womble, Reggie Mickles, Jeff Schultz, Tennessee Vols News and others. Tennessee Vols News said: RT @JeffSchultzAJC: No buts — Tony Gonzalez believes Falcons can win it all http://bit.ly/cfPw3V [...]

5150 P.O.A.D

November 9th, 2010
4:46 pm

JSS
Have you seen Tony’s wife? She is not 2nd in most men’s book. Don’t let your wife spend time with Tony G either. He is a good looking man.

UGABugKiller

November 9th, 2010
4:47 pm

Wow, JSS, you are just a miserable, bitter a-hole of a human being.

Kind of like Ron Borges, or this other miserable, bitter a-hole who writes for the Gainesville Times.

Sometimes I think I’m too negative, too sarcastic, too arrogant… but up against you, there’s only a fight for second place amongst us other bloggers.

Seriously dude, have a coke and smile… something, anything. You’re gonna die of all the pent up bitterness you have going on with you.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Frazier, Kartel ATLien, Ashley Jenkins, Nubyjas Wilborn, Jeff Schultz and others. Jeff Schultz said: Tony Gonzalez believes the Falcons can win it all. #SuperBowl #Falcons #Ravens http://bit.ly/9jdr9A [...]

JSS

November 9th, 2010
4:55 pm

POAD…
I don’t covet another man’s wife… He did very, very, very well ;-)

@ BugKiller…
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!
That’s more of your crazy talk!!! Good luck with that!!! Oh yeah, Willie Martinez!!! Ha ha ha ha!!! Delicious!!!

JSS

November 9th, 2010
4:58 pm

@ POAD…
My late wife was a very beautiful woman, Inside and out!

5150 P.O.A.D

November 9th, 2010
4:58 pm

WOW
there are guys playing football in the picture. I so missed that. HAHAHAHAHA
I guess I should read what Jeff actually types. Sorry I have been single too long.

Really I think Tony is happy with his choice and his chances in the ATL. Tony G knows that the Falcons can win almost every game they play and he can help the team do that. Can the Falcons win it ALL? No, Yes, and Maybe, but Gonzo FEELS like the Falcons are more than capable of earning a shot in Dallas at the end of the year. Tony G has the belief and passion that Nobis, van Note, Brooking, Greene, and Tuggle had to think the Falcons can be winners. Will be Winners.

5150 P.O.A.D

November 9th, 2010
5:05 pm

JSS
I will hate when my DAD has to say that same line. I hope she is well remembered and never forgotten. Some women can be B..s, but never your wife or mother. I hope you are living well after her passing.
You said something great..
A Mom, Lady, and Wife is BEAUTIFUL no matter her physical looks. God made one mistake! He didn’t put a TV Screen in a humans chest so people could really see the beauty of a persons heart in all the works they do.

JSS

November 9th, 2010
5:12 pm

@ POAD…
He thought that in Kansas City with a QB who’d actually get to Super Bowl (Rich Gannon) only after he got away from TG… Strange piece of serendipity there!

JSS

November 9th, 2010
5:14 pm

@ POAD…
They are never “B’s,”: every woman is a result of how they been treated along the way…

JSS

November 9th, 2010
5:16 pm

“they’ve”

clay

November 9th, 2010
5:25 pm

I dont think anyone around atlanta has felt this good EVER about the falcons chances, not even in 98. GO FALCONS. IN TD WE TRUST

The Natue Boy @ JSS

November 9th, 2010
5:53 pm

I respectfully disagree there is indeed a “B” gene….don’t kid yourself

ReddJonn68

November 9th, 2010
5:58 pm

Sorry guys, but Bradley has the best Jinx going for our home teams !

ClassicFalcons

November 9th, 2010
5:59 pm

Had a Dream On Saturday That The Falcons Won It All. And Why Not? We have a championship Owner, GM, Coach, And Mularky as a Coordinator. Look, Championship teams, stop the run, and run the ball. Were ranked sixth in both. It is our time to do it. We must get home field advantage throughout the playoffs for us to have the best shot. Don’t want to go up to New York or play N.O. in the superdome in January! But ask yourself this question, can’t we beat both on the road? We would be a favorite against both at home. It is our year, I feel it more and more. Stay away from injuries and we straight!! GOOOOO FALCONS!!

Jan

November 9th, 2010
6:11 pm

I’m with Tony–the Falcons CAN win it all this year! This team has heart. This is our year! Go Falcons!

The Natue Boy @ Jan

November 9th, 2010
6:33 pm

I’m with you…but Philly scares the crap out of me….I can picture Vick beating us in the Dome….nobody has an answer for Vick when he’s healthy….call me crazy but that’s where I’m at…I’m a jaded Falcons fan..cried in 1980…and was PO’d in 1998…and was born in 68

Jeff Schultz

November 9th, 2010
6:47 pm

JSS — We are in agreement on Orr . . . and Bozeman was/is a dirtbag. Can’t believe an institution like Cal-Berkeley had Lou Campanelli and Todd Bozeman back to back.

Tony C.

November 9th, 2010
6:47 pm

Somebody PLEASE tell Gonzalez to stop jinxing it by talking about….

Jeff Schultz

November 9th, 2010
6:48 pm

POAD — The girl in the picture is looking right at you. She wants you. I’m sure of it.

Jeff Schultz

November 9th, 2010
6:49 pm

UGABugKiller — What are you banging on Ron Borges for? He’s a friend of mind and one of the best reporters I’ve ever known.

DamYankee

November 9th, 2010
6:56 pm

Vick sure looked like a QB Sunday, he’s finally learned to read his check-downs and keep his eyes downfield when he leaves the pocket. Scary! As for Thurs. night vs. the Ravens, I only hope to see Ray Lewis carted off the field. He was at least an accessory to 2nd degree murder right here in the ATL & walked away, but now he wears the media halo and praises God on the sidelines. What a punk.

TechNut

November 9th, 2010
7:06 pm

Heartily agree DamYankee!! Ray Lewis was an accessory to a crime that has never been solved: he was there, I’m sure he saw who did it (if he wasn’t physically involved also), and I’m sure he knows what happened.

JSS

November 9th, 2010
7:13 pm

As you remember from your time in the South Bay; Cal has always had that odd thing going in their athletic department. Our old coach Ben Braun did so much to redeem that program after Bozeman. Still, he was shown the door too…

JSS

November 9th, 2010
7:16 pm

I wondered how long it would be before the Ray Lewis bangers showed up!

JSS

November 9th, 2010
7:20 pm

You guys are always hoping this guy or that guy (Vick and Lewis) gets hurt… But it always seems to be your heroes (hello Larry) who get carted off too… Just watch the game…

Bob G.

November 9th, 2010
7:38 pm

Tony, you’re great. The end of your quote is the perfect rallying cry…why not us? Be the team leader in the locker room and ask your team mates…why not us? Go Birds!

DamYankee

November 9th, 2010
7:46 pm

JSS: I don’t hope Vick gets hurt, in fact I’m a fan, and he paid the price. Just wishing the Karmic wheel would roll all over Ray-Ray.

bgdawg

November 9th, 2010
8:06 pm

yes i too am a fan of ron mexico. he did his time and mexico is doing pretty good for himself

JSS

November 9th, 2010
8:08 pm

@ DY…
I divide them into two camps (Vick and Lewis)… And Karma doesn’t work like that… Vipka, the building or fruit of ones actions are just that (good or bad)…

JSS

November 9th, 2010
8:12 pm

Dang it. I should have took BugKiller to see the Dalai Lama when he was at Emory… Being that I’m all “bitter” and all that!!! Delicious ironies of life!!!

Willie Martinez!!!

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

November 9th, 2010
8:28 pm

me thinks TG has a point- everything in it’s right place. Finish off the division and take care of the Ravens & Packers. Not to concerned w/ STL or SEA as long as the Birds can avoid injuries and taking the foot off the gas while the offense is clicking.

5150 P.O.A.D

November 9th, 2010
9:05 pm

Jeff don’t tease me that way. I only have a down payment, insurance and the 1st months lease payment on the Jaguar she so richly deserves. The economy is bad. I can’t Afford her fulltime. Is there a SANTA out there that can float me a loan for the rest of the year? LOL.

Mike Franklin

November 9th, 2010
9:23 pm

The Ravens have always been one of those teams that just beats the crap out of you. If the NFL has a criminal posse, it ain’t the Raiders. It’s the Ravens.

I hate it because Charter Communications doesn’t carry the NFL Network… and the NFL Network is till absent in over 50% of the national market. On top of that, the whole thing is a borderline anti-trust violation.

Just let Fox show the game. I won’t gripe.

TR

November 9th, 2010
9:28 pm

Keep getting Michael Palmer involved!

What's Important

November 9th, 2010
9:45 pm

Mike Franklin – MyAtl 36 is also going to carry the game.

falconfan 24-7

November 9th, 2010
10:42 pm

Too early to talk Super Bowl. His focus should be on the Ravens. Besides that, he had a couple of drops last game.You would think an All- Pro like Tony would not put additional pressure on the team by his comments.

Don’t be surprise if Palmer start getting more playing time.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

November 9th, 2010
11:00 pm

There are 3 reasons the Falcons will not do a damn thing in the playoffs…… A G A I N.

1. Their qb is CHOKE

2. The Eagles are in the NFC

3. Mike Vick plays for the Eagles

Everytime the Falcons “barely” beats a lesser team, the fans and AJC media pumps them up and then they play a team like the Eagles and get EMBARRASSED on national television, because the CHOKE gets exposed for the fraud that he is.

He shines against poor defenses and CHOKES against good defenses.

Finally, we get to see the 72 million dollar mistake in 2008 when Joe only signed for 30 million.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

November 9th, 2010
11:04 pm

What happened to all “YOU” people that said Mike Vick was just a glorified running back :)

Lets see in September………….. PLAYER OF THE MONTH

Last week…………………….PLAYER OF THE WEEK

And CHOKE’S awards?

Lets see………………..

His qb rating is more than 15 points lower than Vick’s, by the way Vick leads the whole NFL. It must suck that a glorified qb is EMBARRASSED all those Brady/Manning great hopes.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

November 9th, 2010
11:11 pm

“CRUNCH”…..That’s the sound of that Raven D cracking Falcon hot wings………ha ha ha.

I’m taking bets that CHOKE gets another phantom injury by the 2nd quarter :)

He will be on the injured reserved by the end of the game, right after Ed Reid gets about 2 pick6.

Whopper Dawg

November 9th, 2010
11:33 pm

Awful glad we got TG and I hope that we win it for him and the long suffering Falcon fans of which I am one. Little worried about our defense through. Is Jerry playing this year?????

Keith

November 9th, 2010
11:41 pm

Hey “CHOKE”, did you choke on your tongue. Vick is a better QB now. He was lazy when he played for the falcons, last to come into work, first to leave. Vick said himself that prison allowed him to see the mistakes he made. I believe he learned from his mistakes in the past and his play on the field shows the change. You on the other hand have not changed. You still hold a grudge against the falcons for getting rid of Vick. Last time I looked the falcons were not 17-1 at home when Vick was QB. I do not believe that Brady and Manning are embarrassed by Vick. The have both one the superbowl. Finally the only one who should be embarrassed is you. Go back to school and learn proper grammer.