Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday after 16 seasons.
Gates’ journey from college basketball standout at Kent State University – never playing a down of collegiate football – to redefining the TE position and breaking NFL records is one of the great stories in Chargers and NFL history.
Gates walks away from the field with 116 touchdown receptions – the most by a TE in NFL history. At the TE position, he also ranks first in league history with 21 career multi-touchdown games and fourth in league annals with 21 100-yard receiving performances.
One of the most clutch receivers to ever play the game, Gates’ 39 touchdown receptions on third down are the most in league history at TE and tied with Hall of Fame WR Cris Carter for No. 3 overall.
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Over the course of his career, Gates registered eight seasons with eight-plus receiving touchdowns, the most ever by a TE and tied for No. 5 all-time. On the receiving end of 89 career touchdowns from quarterback Philip Rivers, the Gates-Rivers tandem has combined for the most touchdowns of any QB-TE combo in league history and ranks No. 2 among any QB-WR combination in NFL annals.
Gates will become eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2023.
Gates was a pillar for the Chargers during his 16 seasons (2003-18). He is the franchise’s all-time leader in career receptions (955), receiving yards (11,841) and touchdown catches (116), and ranks No. 2 in team annals with 220 career regular-season games played.
An eight-time Pro Bowl selection, Gates is part of five Associated Press All-Pro teams, owns three Sporting News First Team All-Pro selections and is a member of the NFL’s All Decade Team (2000-09) as well as the Chargers’ 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.