Last week, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis parlayed his sudden pledge to retire into a rousing victory in what necessarily was his final home game.
This week, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez could help the Falcons get a little extra lift from a similar situation. With a few exceptions. First, while he has been a key member of the team since 2009, Gonzalez doesn’t have nearly the same connection to the Falcons that Lewis has to the Ravens. Second, this won’t be Gonzalez’s final home game — if Atlanta wins, they’ll host the NFC title game.
And, third, Gonzalez has still left the door open, even if it’s just a crack.
“It’s one and done if we don’t win, [so] for me, this could be it,” Gonzalez said Thursday, via Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There is no tomorrow. There is no saying, ‘We’ll get them next year.’ It’s about going out there and finishing on the right note.”
But he said “this could be it,” not “this will be it.” And he has continued to say, all year long, that he’s 95-percent certain that he will be retiring. (Yes, 95 percent. A number that isn’t nearly as high as most of us used to think it was.)
Given that he has no postseason wins and the Falcons despite five straight winning seasons haven’t won a playoff game, it’s hard to imagine Gonzalez riding off into the sunset when the light is being provided not by the setting sun but by the wreckage of yet another season of unfulfilled expectations.