If Winslow isn’t even the top tight end on the list ,then you know the player who is has to be good. Antonio Gates has been very, very good.
Gates’ story is one of the more unique in league history. A basketball player at Kent State University, Gates was told he didn’t have much NBA potential. Though he didn’t play college football at all, he arranged some workouts in front of NFL teams.
The Chargers were the first team he worked out for. They didn’t want him to work out for another club, signing him to a contract immediately.
But how was a basketball player going to fit into the NFL? Beautifully, actually.
As athletic as any player that has ever played the position, Gates used his background as a power forward to get position on defenders and win one-on-one battles. But Gates wasn’t just a tight end who helped move the chains on short routes over the middle. He was a threat to stretch the field and take it the distance.
The word “was” is used, despite the fact that Gates is still on the roster. Most of those things he can’t do anymore, but he is still one of the most beloved players in team history.
The future first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer has numbers that will stand the test of time.
He has caught more touchdown passes than any tight end that has ever played the game. This is impressive, considering guys like Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe, one guy who easily got into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and another who easily will, are high on that list.
He also has more catches than any player in Chargers history. So many more that he has left the guy at No. 2 in Charlie Joiner, far in the dust.
The Chargers have had two of the best tight ends in NFL history on their team, but the numbers Gates has put up are good enough to say he might be the best.