||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2011)|
Gates on the set of KUSI in June 2008.
No. 85 San Diego Chargers
|Date of birth:June 18, 1980|
|Place of birth: Detroit, Michigan|
|High school: Detroit (MI) Central|
|College: Kent State|
|Undrafted in 2003|
|Debuted in 2003 for the San Diego Chargers|
|Roster status: Active|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 15, 2013
Antonio Ethan Gates, Jr. (born June 18, 1980) is an American football tight end for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL). He has been selected onto the Pro Bowl eight times and is a five time NFL All-Pro. Gates was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003 after playing college basketball for Kent State University. He attended college at Kent State his junior and senior years after brief stints at Michigan State University and Eastern Michigan University.
Antonio Gates, Jr was born in 1980 to Antonio and Mattie Gates in Detroit, Michigan. He attended Central High School where he excelled at both basketball and football. Playing alongside friend and future NFL player Dwight Smith, it was in basketball where Gates had the most success as he led Central High School to
Michigan’s Class-A Final Four in his junior year. As a senior, he averaged 27 points and 12 rebounds a game, and led Central all the way to the Michigan state championship.
Originally, Gates enrolled at Michigan State University wanting to play football under then-coach Nick Saban as well as basketball under coach Tom Izzo but upon enrolling Saban wanted him to play only football. Gates then chose to pursue playing basketball by transferring to Eastern Michigan University to play basketball. He played there part of a season, subsequently played at two junior colleges and eventually played two seasons at Kent State University in northeastern Ohio.
As a Golden Flash, Gates played two seasons as power forward. His junior season he averaged 16.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game  His senior season he received Honorable Mention All-American Honors from the Associated Press after averaging 20.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. His senior season his team won its first regular season Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship in school history after finishing the regular season with a 24-5 overall record with a 17-1 record in the MAC. Gates helped the Golden Flashes win their second consecutive MAC tournament and earn its resulting berth in the 2002 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament In the NCAA tournament he gave crucial performances that helped Kent State reach the Elite Eight as a 10 seed by upsetting 7 seed Oklahoma State (69-61), 2 seed Alabama (71-58) and 3 seed Pittsburgh (78-73). He finished with a record of 54-16 in two years of playing.
His jersey number, 44 was retired on Feb 27, 2010 making him just the fourth Golden Flash to receive the honor.
San Diego Chargers
After being told by scouts that he was too much of a “tweener” to make the NBA, Gates (6′4″) arranged a workout in front of NFL scouts. Despite never playing football in college, as many as 19 teams were believed to have contacted Gates about a tryout. Gates chose to work out first for the San Diego Chargers. Recognizing his potential, the Chargers immediately signed him to a contract as an undrafted free agent.
Lost in the hoopla of this incredible performance, and the disappointment of San Diego's league-worst 4-12 record was Antonio’s rise from third string to starter by November. He was learning on the job, but each game he got better and better. After finishing a solid 2003 rookie season in which he caught 24 passes for 389 yards and two scores, he was picked by many experts to have a breakout season in 2004.
In only his second season in the NFL, Gates became quarterback Drew Brees' favorite target, finishing the season with 81 receptions for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns. On December 19, Gates tied the NFL season record for touchdowns by a tight end (13) in a 21–0 win over the Cleveland Browns, and he went on to break that record in an overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts on December 26. Gates was selected to the 2005 Pro Bowl and caught a TD pass from Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning to help the AFC to a 38–27 victory. Additionally, Gates was on the receiving end of a 33 yard pass from teammate Drew Brees in a flea-flicker play selected by fans online.
On August 23, 2005, after holding out for a contract extension, Gates inked a six-year deal worth up to $24 million with the San Diego Chargers. Because of his holdout, Gates was suspended for one game–the home opener against the Dallas Cowboys, a loss. Gates went on to have another stellar season, catching 89 passes for 1,101 yards and 10 touchdowns, but the Chargers missed the playoffs by a single win.
With the departure of Drew Brees during the offseason, it was assumed that Gates would suffer a decline in production in 2006, with first-year starter Philip Rivers at the helm. Gates had a relatively quiet start to the season, but he finished the year strongly and ended up with 924 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He caught two touchdown passes on December 10 against Denver to help the Chargers clinch their division.
Gates was a Pro Bowler and All-Pro for the third straight year. Undefeated at Qualcomm during the regular season, the Chargers and their fans anticipated a trip to the Super Bowl but they were beaten by the New England Patriots at home in a controversial game 24–21.
In 2007, Gates wasn't selected to the All Pro team but was still a pro bowler. During the season he caught 75 passes for 984 yards and nine touchdowns. He was once again a key factor in the Chargers 11-5 campaign but not during the playoffs. He dislocated a toe on his right foot just before the postseason, which slowed him down during the Chargers playoff run.
Gates was not the only Chargers star player injured: both LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers had leg injuries which dropped the Chargers chances of reaching the Super Bowl. However, with effort and toughness they still managed to play well, reaching the AFC Championship where they lost to the 18 and 0 Patriots.
Gates said he was leaning toward having surgery to repair a dislocated left big toe that slowed his performance during the NFL 2008 Playoffs, but was undecided on whether to have surgery or not, "There is higher chance I'm going to have surgery". Gates also pulled out of his 5th Pro Bowl selection because of his injuries alongside his teammate LaDainian Tomlinson. Gates finished the season with 60 receptions for 704 yards and eight touchdowns.
On February 23, 2008, Gates said he would have foot surgery to fix the injury that has hurt him in the final part of the season. He would face a 4–6 month recovery time. He seemed questionable for Week 1 and even sounded worried about his status for the opening day of the 2008 season, however, he ended up playing every game despite complaints that his toe was bothering him during the first half of the season. He finished the season with 60 receptions for 704 yards and eight touchdowns.
Finally healthy after a couple injury-plagued seasons, Gates enjoyed the finest year of his career. He caught 79 passes for a career-high 1,157 yards and eight TDs. He hauled in at least five passes in 10 of the team's first 11 games.
Gates began the 2010 season by signing a lucrative 5-year $36 million contract with $20 million guaranteed. In the first nine games of the 2010 season, he had 40 receptions and 9 touchdowns. Foot injuries slowed the second half of his season. He was invited to the 2011 Pro Bowl, the seventh consecutive year he was chosen as the AFC starter., although he skipped the all-star game due to his lingering injuries.
Gates tried to play through his chronic foot problems but was forced to sit out Weeks 3-5. He came back after the bye week and started every game the rest of the way, finishing with more than 60 catches (64) for the seventh time in his career. He also scored seven TDs and was voted into his eighth Pro Bowl. Gates became the Chargers’ all-time receptions leader on a six-yard catch on a 4th-and-5 early in the fourth quarter against Detroit. It was his 587th career catch, surpassing Charlie Joiner’s 586.
Gates had another record making season, becoming the fifth tight end in NFL history with 600 career catches and runner-up for most TDs in Chargers franchise history with 83. The tight end and his quarterback Philip Rivers have proved to be a formidable pair, connecting for a total of 56 TD catches, the most out of any QB-tight end combination in the NFL.
Records and awards
- On October 3, 2010, Gates became the seventh tight end with 500 career receptions.
- In 2005 and 2006, Antonio Gates was selected as the NFL's All-Pro tight end.
- On February 27, 2010, His number 44 was retired by Kent State.
Regular season stats
Gates married his longtime girlfriend, model Sasha Dindayal, on July 9, 2011.
- BioThe Official Website of Antonio Gates
- Mihoces, Gary (April 20, 2005). "NFL seeks best players on the court or mat". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 28, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- Jenkins, Chris (December 28, 2010). "Gates, Dielman, Rivers voted to Pro Bowl". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on January 31, 2011.
- Top 10 Things You Should Know About Antonio Gates
- Official NFL Players' Page: Antonio Gates
- San Diego Chargers Player Bio: Antonio Gates
- Pro-Reference-Football.com Stats: Antonio Gates
- ESPN.Com Kent State basketball statistics
Mike Ditka 1961, (12)
|Record for NFL Tight End Receiving Touchdowns in a Single Season (Tied with Vernon Davis)
Rob Gronkowski 2011, (17)