LA Chargers in the 99 overall club: Antonio Gates, 2007, 2009, 2012
If we were to drive down to SoFi Stadium and construct a LA Chargers Mount Rushmore next to the stadium then we would be seeing Antonio Gates‘ face every time the Chargers played at home. Gates undoubtedly belongs on this hypothetical Mount Rushmore as he is one of the pillars of not just the Chargers’ history but in NFL history.
Gates is the greatest pass-catcher in LA Chargers’ history, period. Not only that but he one of the three greatest tight ends of all-time. The only player that I would legitimately consider over Gates is Tony Gonzalez. Sorry, Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten.
Gates is also so important to the game because of his background. His background as a college basketball player that did not even play college football is remarkable in its own right and Gates helped open the door for the next wave of pass-catching, vertical tight ends that we witness today.
Like Neal and Tomlinson, Gates received his 99 overall rating during the Chargers’ best days of the mid-to-late 2000s. However, Gates reclimbed the mountain a third time, three years after his second 99 overall rating to be the Chargers’ most recent 99 overall player.
Gates was not even coming off of that special of a season in 2011, as he caught 64 passes for 778 yards and seven touchdowns. A solid year absolutely and one that was worth a Pro Bowl nod, but still was not any better than his 2009 or 2010 season.
Regardless, Antonio Gates is the only member of the LA Chargers to earn a 99 overall rating three times and likely will be for quite some time.