January 14, 2020 / 8:22 PM / 11 days ago

TE Gates announces retirement from NFL

FILE PHOTO: San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers looks over at tight end Antonio Gates (85) during warm-ups before playing the Seattle Seahawks in their pre-season NFL football game in San Diego, California August 8, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Antonio Gates announced his retirement from football on Tuesday, ending his career with Hall of Fame-caliber numbers.

Gates, 39, signed with the San Diego Chargers in 2003 as an unrestricted free agent after playing college basketball, not football, at Kent State. He remained with the organization through 2018 but did not play in 2019.

“I never dreamed that I would play this game of football so long or how fortunate I would be to play it with just one organization,” he wrote on Twitter. “I want to thank the Chargers organization, the National Football League, [Chargers owner] Dean Spanos and the Spanos family for the opportunity to live out a dream and play the game I love.”

Gates added in his announcement that he would remain with the Chargers in a community relations role.

He played in 236 games (190 starts) in his career, amassing 955 catches for 11,841 yards with 116 touchdowns. He’s the all-time leader among tight ends in touchdown receptions, and his catches and yards rank him third at the position behind Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten.

Gates was named first-team All-Pro three times and to eight Pro Bowl teams.

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