Dec 22, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) is defended by Oakland Raiders linebacker Nick Roach (53) during the first half at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
We have all had the privilege of watching TE Antonio Gates play like a man among boys the past 11 years. He has been invited to 8 Pro Bowls, a 3-time First-Team All-Pro, and he is second on the active receiving touchdown list. He is 4th on the all-time receiving yards list for receiving yards by a tight end, and only Tony Gonzalez has more receiving touchdowns as a tight end all-time. How much longer are we going to be able to watch one of the greatest players to ever don the lightning bolt?
The last few years, he has been nagged by injuries. But year in and year out, he is always putting up productive seasons. Is he one of the greatest ever? The numbers certainly suggest just that. In the list of all-time receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, he is higher on the list than some Hall of Famers (Lance Alworth, Michael Irvin and others). This past year, with his 4 receiving touchdowns, he passed up all-time Charger great Lance Alworth in receiving touchdowns. For a while, he was chasing another tight end that wore the same uniform, Kellen Winslow. Gates has long passed Winslow in receiving yards and touchdowns, but is he the greatest Charger ever? I am sure Dan Fouts or LaDanian Tomlinson would have a thing or two to say about that. But it’s a legitimate argument.