Chain Links: Please stay, Gonzo

It feels blasphemous to dedicate a significant chunk of writing real estate to a topic that doesn’t involve the words “super” and “bowl” in no particular order. But forgive me, as right now the Harbaugh brothers press conference is happening, and to maintain some semblance of sanity I need to dabble in something we’ve neglected over the past few weeks: fantasy.

I know, and I get it. You want to talk about Beyonce, and commercials with babies that go into space, and the football game that takes place in between those things. But please, allow me this indulgence, because Tony Gonzalez is so very important to you, and to me. We need him so much.

Gonzo said following the season that he’s 95 percent leaning towards retirement, and later he even bumped that up to 97 percent. Yeah yeah, that means he’s saying there’s a chance, and dammit there should be after a 36-year-old caught 93 passes for 930 yards, placing him third among all tight ends in yardage. Throw in his eight touchdowns, and all three of those numbers were his best totals since 2008. He can still ball, and he’s still in an offense that’s loaded with other options, with speed on the outside to open up areas in the middle (Roddy White and Julio Jones), and speed in the flats (Jacquizz Rodgers).

That’s why we need you, Tony. If you leave we’ll miss your scent, and we’ll miss your musk. And so will Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, which is why Gonzo’s fade into the everlasting light of post-football life that consists mostly of playing bridge and watching Little House on the Prairie may not be quite as certain as what we thought a week or so ago.

Dimitroff is openly lobbying Gonzalez to stick around for one more year. While making the rounds yesterday at the Super Bowl media center, he said the team doesn’t have a deadline for a decision, but obviously with the offseason officially starting for everyone Monday and the Scouting Combine looming along with free agency and the draft, sooner is much better than later.

Dimitroff said Gonzalez is his own man, and as such he’ll make his own manly decision:

“Tony’s a man and he’s got to make his own decision. Suffice it to say that it’s not going to be an easy decision for him one way or another because he knows that he still has fuel in the tank and it’s very legitimate fuel in the tank.”

From a fantasy standpoint, Gonzalez firmly leads the second tier of tight ends, and he’s nearly in the elite tier that’s inhabited only by Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. He finished this year with eight more catches than Graham, and he was behind the Saints tight end by only 52 yards. Graham and Gronk are the only two tight ends you can justify overpaying for on draft day, and Gonzo’s totals put him in that conversation too.

We need you, Tony, and you need us. I think.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • Jim Harbaugh defended Chris Culliver the person, but he didn’t exactly stand guard over his reputation. [Ray Ratto]
  • You’ll be able to find Ray Lewis in Miami a lot next year as he watches his soon play football. It’s quite the rewarding experience. [Palm Beach Post]
  • Here’s a pretty awesome interactive breakdown of team-by-team salaries that will become very handy, very soon as we enter the offseason. [The Guardian]
  • Matt Birk wants all players to donate their brains for medical research. Not now, of course, because that would be weird. Later, when they leave this life. [PFT]