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All You Need to Know About Antonio Gates

Posted Jul 2, 2014

Get ready for the 2014 season by learning all about Antonio Gates.

Over the coming days, we’ll highlight a few notable Chargers with their 2014 Media Guide profile.  Up next is tight end Antonio Gates.


There should be little doubt that five years after he catches his final pass in the National Football League, Antonio Gates will be a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

An eight-time Pro Bowl pick, a five-time Associated Press All-Pro, a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team (2000-09) and one of the Chargers’ 50 Greatest Players of All-Time, Gates is the fourth tight end in NFL history to eclipse 700 career catches and 9,000 career yards. Playing in just his 158th career game in 2013 when he did it, Gates reached 9,000 yards in fewer games than any player in history and caught 700 passes in the third-fewest games.


Gates’ 719 career catches are fourth-most in NFL history among tight ends behind Shannon Sharpe (815), Jason Witten (879) and Tony Gonzalez’s (1,325), while his 9,193 receiving yards are also fourth behind the same three, (Gonzalez 15,127, Sharpe 10,060 and Witten 9,799). In touchdowns though, Gates’ 87 career touchdown catches are second-most among tight ends in NFL history behind Gonzalez’s 111. His 87 total TDs since arriving in the NFL in 2003 are tied with Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald for second-most in the league over the last 11 seasons. And Gates’ total of 60 touchdowns between he and quarterback Philip Rivers is the most in NFL history for a quarterback-tight end tandem.

Where Gates has really earned his stripes is on third down as one of the most clutch receivers the NFL has ever seen. His 213 career third-down catches are 23rd most in NFL history and third most among tight ends behind Gonzalez and Witten. Gates has caught 30 of his 87 touchdown passes on third down, seventh in NFL history among all players and second among tight ends.

Gates led the team in 2013 with 77 catches and he was second with 872 yards. It marked the eighth time in 11 seasons that he led the team in catches. Five times he’s led the team in yards. He has 21 career 100-yard games, sixth-most in team history and fourth-most among all NFL tight ends since 1960. The 2013 season was the sixth of Gates’ career in which he tallied at least 70 catches and 800 yards.

Heading into 2014, Gates is the franchise’s all-time leader for career receptions and touchdown catches. He ranks third on the team’s all-time list for receiving yards (9,193), trailing Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie Joiner by just 10 yards (9,203). Gates needs just 391 yards to pass Lance Alworth (9,584 yards) to become the franchise leader in that category as well.

Besides his lofty position among NFL pass catchers, Gates is beloved in the San Diego community. He has shown a caring heart since arriving as a free agent basketball phenom from Kent State University. His signature Shop with a Charger event is one of the most popular holiday events in town as Gates hosts homeless, neglected and abused children to a special night that includes a Christmas shopping spree. He is also the honorary chairman for the annual Shoot to Cure HD, which raises much-needed research funds for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. And he works closely with Promises2Kids, an organization that offers support to San Diego’s foster youth community.

Gates’ route to the NFL has been well-chronicled. When he signed with the Chargers in 2003, he had not played football since his senior season at Central High School in Detroit. He began his collegiate career at Michigan State under the assumption that he could play both football and basketball. When the football coach relented, Gates chose to focus on hoops and decided it was best to leave the East Lansing campus. An up-and-down start to his basketball career sent him to three different schools before he finally found a home at Kent State, where in two seasons he helped lead the Golden Flashes to back-to-back Mid-American Conference championships and the Elite Eight of the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Gates ended his career as the sixth-leading scorer in school history and in Feb. 2010, he returned to the Kent, Ohio, campus to have his No. 44 jersey retired by the school.

Gates’ paternal grandfather, Henry Hank, was a professional boxer in the 1950s and ’60s who fought 97 professional bouts as a middleweight and light heavyweight, winning 62 of them. His 1962 fight against Joey Giardello was voted the Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine. Old photos show a striking resemblance between Gates and his grandfather. Gates’ cousin, Tony Harrison is one of boxing’s top young middleweights. Harrison has started his career 18-0 with 15 wins by knockout.

Had Gates not opted for a career in athletics, he might have tried his hand as a firefighter. A couple of years ago, a group of firefighters attended a training camp practice and one of the most enamored players was Gates. He told several that long ago he’d dreamed of being a firefighter. So several weeks later, the assistant San Diego fire chief returned to Chargers Park and presented Gates with a SDFD firefighting jacket with his own name and number.

 

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