First, let me start off by congratulating former Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez on being elected into the NFL Hall of Fame. None of us had any doubt he would eventually end up there, literally never any doubt.
I do have to ask – Where does he rank among the all-time greats in the franchises history?
Its easy to say he isn’t an all time Falcons great, because he wasn’t here long enough. It’s easy to dismiss Tony G going into the Ring of Honor because everyone first thinks of him as a Chief, not a Falcon.
To quote Lee Corso – not so fast my friends.
The way free agency has changed sports, means as fans we must evolve in our way of thinking.
Honestly answer this question: How many athletes in pro sports, that play longer than five years, stay with the same team their entire career? While there are some, most do not.
I have had the “Who is the greatest Falcons player of all time” conversation at nauseum on radio, the player most people called in with – Deion Sanders.
People forget Deion was only here five years and then left voluntarily. Tony G asked to come to Atlanta because he wanted a chance to win and played the final five years of his hall of fame career in the Red & Black. Deion left Atlanta for the same reason.
While I will not advocate that Tony G be in your Top 5, I will advocate that he be in your Top 10. He helped lead this team to the NFC title game, had more than four thousand receiving yards in his five years wearing a Falcons uniform and helped to develop the best QB this franchise has ever seen.
I would put Tony 8th all-time in a Falcons uniform behind William Andrews, Steve Bartkowski, Tommy Nobis, Jessie Tuggle, Jeff Van Note, Mike Kenn and Claude Humphrey. I would put Deion Sanders, Gerald Riggs and Warrick Dunn as my 9th, 10th and 11th all-time greatest Falcons.
Obviously once Matt Ryan and Julio Jones retire, they will immediately jet to one and two respectively among the all-time greatest Falcons.
Tony Gonzalez is one of the greatest Falcons of all time, its time that we start recognizing him as such. Soon, he will be the 11th member of the Falcons Ring of Honor.