It is a sad day for Los Angeles Chargers fans everywhere. Tight end Antonio Gates has officially retired from the NFL after 16 seasons. One of the greatest to play the position, he will be a part of NFL history forever.
Antonio Gates has officially called it a career folks, announcing it via Twitter on Tuesday. Many held out hope that the Chargers may bring him in early on this past season to help battle through injuries at the tight end spot.
However, it never happened. While it may have been for the best, there were dreams of getting to watch Gates hoist the Lombardi trophy with Philip Rivers and ride off into the sunset, getting the piece of hardware that many so desperately desire.
Gates finishes his career with 236 games played, putting up totals of 955 receptions for 11,841 yards and 116 touchdowns (stats via Pro Football Reference). Those numbers rank third, third, and first for tight ends all-time respectively.
Gates should without a doubt be a first-ballot Hall of Fame player, and football fans everywhere should look forward to seeing him in Canton someday. An amazing teammate, competitor, and overall player, Gates no doubt left a lasting legacy amongst players, coaches, and fans alike.
Gates will forever be a Chargers legend and nothing can take that away from him. The Rivers to Gates connection over the years was something that many teams could only ever dream of coming from their tight end.
The Chargers may not have fielded a team that would have gotten Gates that illustrious Super Bowl title this season, but it would have been much better for everyone had we gotten to see him go out on his own terms.
Gates had an absolutely magnificent NFL career. While it may be sad to see him go, it was quite the spectacle to watch week in and week out. All we can do now is thank him for everything he has done for the fanbase, and for the game of football over his 16 years of playing.