SAN DIEGO — Chargers legend Antonio Gates is now forever enshrined in the San Diego Salute to Champions Hall of Fame.
“It’s always a privilege to be back home for me. This is always going to be my home. A lot of great memories here, so I’m glad to be back,” said Gates.
The now Hall of Famer has come a long way.
From growing up in Detroit, Michigan to leading his alma mater Kent State to the Elite 8 as basketball player than becoming an NFL star — Gates called the induction a full circle moment.
“Surreal moment, I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around it all,” said Gates. “Every time when I look at certain statistics and stats where I stand as an athlete, I think about the people who’ve been around me and the footsteps I’ve traveled. So I have so many people to thank, I would be here all day trying to thank them all.”
The 16-year NFL veteran is thankful for San Diego fans, saying one moment in 2008 cemented his love for America’s Finest fans.
“Fantasy was like really big. I remember a guy coming up to me at the gas station, like ‘hey man shouldn’t you be home I got you on my team next week,'” said Gates. “The true honesty of the fans and the true honesty of the people that were in San Diego, but yet they still loved and supported me — that’s what its all about.”
In retirement, the Bolts great enjoys spending time with his three children and keeping close to the Chargers organization.
“I think that’s important. When you’re retired and done and you turn that chapter of your life, that’s kind of important to stay around the game,” Gates said. “You miss that continuity, that comradery — that’s what I’ve tried to do over the last couple of years.”
The eight time NFL pro bowler becomes eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2024. He’s excited about the possibility to put on that gold jacket.
“That’s a major honor. You think about all the greats that played the game and all the guys that paved the way for guys like myself, and myself paving the way for guys behind me.” said Gates. “It’s an ultimate goal.”