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Gates shows his football mettle

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051216/SPORTS03/512160445" target="_blank">IndyStar.com</a>

    By Phillip B. Wilson

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/gates05.jpg" class="left" alt="Antonio Gates" />ntonio Gates didn't foresee a future for himself in football. But Nick Saban, who coached Gates at Michigan State, did.

    Saban, now coaching the Miami Dolphins, asked Gates to focus on football over basketball. Gates quit the MSU football team, and never played a down in college. Instead, he devoted himself to basketball and wound up at Kent State, where he helped the team to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

    Three years into the NFL, there isn't a better tight end than San Diego's Gates, who enters Sunday's game against Indianapolis with 76 receptions for 997 yards and nine touchdowns. He's fifth in the league in catches, and his AFC-leading total is 12 more than Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez, a six-time Pro Bowl selection.

    "It's all somewhat crazy, because you don't view yourself like everyone else does," Gates said in quotes provided by the team. "I feel like I'm just playing and steadily trying to prove myself. If others see me as the best, I have to prove it.

    "You take a different approach when somebody says that about you. I think it makes me work harder. I might make a play and somebody says it was a spectacular catch, but to me I'm just thinking, 'I made one play. I've got to continue to play and make more.' "

    The undrafted pro broke through in 2004, setting a league record for most touchdowns by a tight end with 13. That earned him a trip with Gonzalez to Hawaii as a Pro Bowl starter. Gates is 6-4, with the athleticism to run away from linebackers and the physical play to separate himself from defensive backs. He had seven catches for 49 yards and a score in San Diego's loss to the Colts last year at the RCA Dome.

    "It's great to have a stud tight end," Chargers quarterback Drew Brees said in a midweek conference call. "You always have to worry about No. 85."

    It helps, also, to be in an offense with the Chargers' all-time leading rusher and two-time Pro Bowl running back, LaDainian Tomlinson.

    "It's fun for so many reasons, but I know that my game has benefited from it," Gates said. "When an offense has multiple weapons, it makes it so hard for defenses to say, 'We're going to take away this guy,' because then somebody else will beat them."

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