Antonio Gates is an American football tight end. Since 2003, he has been a dominant player for the National Football League. He is currently a free agent.
Antonio Gates played collegiate football briefly for Michigan State University and Eastern Michigan University before transferring to Kent State and receiving Honorable Mention All-American Honors from the Associated Press, after his average per game recorded 20.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. Playing with the No. 44, Antonio Gates’ jersey number was retired, making him one of four Golden Flash’s to have their jersey retired. After being told by many that he was a “tweener,” Antonio Gates began working out with the San Diego Chargers. The team recognized his potential, and they immediately signed him to a contract as an undrafted free agent. After his solid 2003 rookie season, Antonio Gates recorded a career high with 16.2 yards per reception, leading experts to predict that the following season would be a breakout season for the rookie. He achieved much success in 2004, as Gates finished the season with 81 receptions for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns, tied the NFL single season record for touchdown receptions by a tight end (12), and was selected to the 2005 Pro Bowl. Catching a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning, Gates helped bring the AFC to a win. Antonio Gates was a preferred target of QB Drew Brees, and fans selected the duo to perform a flea-flicker play. The year 2005 brought Gates more recognition, as he caught 89 passes for 1,101 yards and 10 touchdowns, although the Chargers would have made the playoffs with one more win. In 2007, the Chargers reached the AFC Championship, before losing to the Patriots; however, Gates suffered from a few injury-plagued seasons. In 2009, finally healthy, Gates achieved one of the best seasons of his career, catching 79 passes for a career-high 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns, as well as the team finishing the year with over a dozen wins. In 2010, Gates signed a 5-year contract with the team and earned a Pro Bowl selection for his seventh consecutive year, although he could not play in it due to his injuries. The 2012 season showed Gates as the fifth best tight end in league history with 600 career catches. He was also the second highest in terms of touchdowns in Chargers franchise history with 83. Quarterback Phillip Rivers and Gates proved to be a strong duo, connecting for 56 touchdown catches during the 2012 season, the most out of any QB-tight end combo in the league. In 2014, Gates became the Chargers’ career leader in receiving yards and he became the NFL’s fourth tight end to surpass 10,000 yards in career receiving yards. That season, he finished with 12 touchdowns, becoming one of four players in the history of the NFL to catch 12 or more touchdowns in a season, and was voted the team’s Offensive Player of the Year. In 2017, he caught his 112th career touchdown pass, setting a new NFL record for most touchdowns scored by a tight end.
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