Antonio Gates has officially announced his retirement from the NFL.
After establishing himself as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history — he was named to the 2000’s All-Decade Team, garnered eight Pro Bowl selections and was a five-time All-Pro — the former Los Angeles Chargers tight end has officially called it quits.
The 39-year-old tight end announced his decision on his Twitter account, as you can see his statement below:
“After 16 seasons in the NFL, 16 seasons as a Charger, eight Pro Bowl appearances and many records broken, I find it hard to officially put this statement out and retire from the game of football.
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. I want to thank the Chargers organization, the National Football League, Dean Spanos and the Spanos family for the opportunity to live out a dream and play the game I love.
To the fans in San Diego, Los Angeles, across the country and around the world, thank you for your unwavering support all these years. There would be no NFL without you.”
Gates Will Continue to Work For the Chargers
While Gates’ legendary playing career is over, he did announce another key decision — he will continue working for the Chargers in a different capacity.
“While today I am officially retiring as a Chargers, I am grateful that I will still be lending my services to the Chargers organization – just now in a completely different capacity through the team’s community engagement initiatives and public facing events.
I’m looking forward to beginning the next chapter of my career and am grateful for the opportunity to be back around the team and our fans. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this remarkable journey with me. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Gates last played during the 2018 season with the Chargers– which was actually unplanned, because Los Angeles had initially informed Gates that he wouldn’t be brought back for the 2018 season.
However, after an injury to starting tight end Hunter Henry during the preseason, the Chargers brought back their tight end great.
During all 16 seasons spent in a Chargers uniform, the former college basketball player posted 955 receptions for 11,841 yards and 116 touchdowns. He is the NFL career leader in touchdown receptions among all tight ends.
He also ranks third among all tight ends in receiving yards and receptions.
Keenan Allen Reacts To Gates’ Retirement.
Gates’ former teammate, Keenan Allen, reacted to the tight end’s retirement. Although Gates and Allen are 12 years apart, they teamed up together as Philip Rivers’ favorite targets for six seasons (2013-2018).
“You Always had that swagger and confidence that couldn’t be touched and I always loved that about you. The way you approach the game/practice everyday was special. Showed me what it meant to be a PRO! What a start to your life and I hope your next chapter is even better big bro!”
“Man I remember it like it was yesterday. Walking into the huddle for the first time, seeing Antonio, Phil, Ryan Matthews and just saying damn I’m here. But the way you embraced me and taught me the ropes was special for me. Just to hang around you and hear you talk was special.”
Despite never winning a Super Bowl, it would be no surprise to see Gates enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.