LOS ANGELES — Chargers legend Antonio Gates, who played most of his accomplished, 16-season career with the team in San Diego, has officially retired.
Gates announced the decision with a post on Twitter late Tuesday morning.
“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,” Gates wrote.
“While today I am officially retiring as a Charger, 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.”
— Antonio Gates (@AntonioGates85) January 14, 2020
Across his storied career, Gates “helped revolutionize the tight end position,” NFL.com’s Kevin Patra writes. He was named to eight Pro Bowls, made three First Team All-Pro teams and broke the all-time touchdown record for tight ends.
Gates enjoyed his greatest success alongside veteran quarterback Philip Rivers: The two had a combined 89 career touchdowns, the most of any quarterback-tight end combination in NFL history.
He did not play football in 2019, after the Los Angeles Chargers declined to re-sign the 39-year-old.
“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,” Gates wrote Tuesday. “Thank you to everyone who has been part of this remarkable journey with me. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
He will become eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2023. FOX 5 Sports Anchor Troy Hirsch has little doubt that’s where he will end up:
Next stop for Antonio Gates: Hall Of Fame! pic.twitter.com/pVRceN22h5
— Troy Hirsch (@troyhirschfox5) January 14, 2020