An eight-time Pro Bowl pick, a five-time Associated Press All-Pro, a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team (2000-09) and one of the Chargers' 50 Greatest Players of All-Time, Gates is the fourth tight end in NFL history to eclipse 700 career catches and 9,000 career yards. Playing in just his 158th career game in 2013 when he did it, Gates reached 9,000 yards in fewer games than any player in history and caught 700 passes in the third-fewest games.
Gates' 719 career catches are fourth-most in NFL history among tight ends behind Shannon Sharpe (815), Jason Witten (879) and Tony Gonzalez's (1,325), while his 9,193 receiving yards are also fourth behind the same three, (Gonzalez 15,127, Sharpe 10,060 and Witten 9,799). In touchdowns though, Gates' 87 career touchdown catches are second-most among tight ends in NFL history behind Gonzalez's 111. His 87 total TDs since arriving in the NFL in 2003 are tied with Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald for second-most in the league over the last 11 seasons. And Gates' total of 60 touchdowns between he and quarterback Philip Rivers is the most in NFL history for a quarterback-tight end tandem.
Where Gates has really earned his stripes is on third down as one of the most clutch receivers the NFL has ever seen. His 213 career third-down catches are 23rd most in NFL history and third most among tight ends behind Gonzalez and Witten. Gates has caught 30 of his 87 touchdown passes on third down, seventh in NFL history among all players and second among tight ends.
Gates led the team in 2013 with 77 catches and he was second with 872 yards. It marked the eighth time in 11 seasons that he led the team in catches. Five times he's led the team in yards. He has 21 career 100-yard games, sixth-most in team history and fourth-most among all NFL tight ends since 1960. The 2013 season was the sixth of Gates' career in which he tallied at least 70 catches and 800 yards.
Heading into 2014, Gates is the franchise's all-time leader for career receptions and touchdown catches. He ranks third on the team's all-time list for receiving yards (9,193), trailing Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie Joiner by just 10 yards (9,203). Gates needs just 391 yards to pass Lance Alworth (9,584 yards) to become the franchise leader in that category as well.
Besides his lofty position among NFL pass catchers, Gates is beloved in the San Diego community. He has shown a caring heart since arriving as a free agent basketball phenom from Kent State University. His signature Shop with a Charger event is one of the most popular holiday events in town as Gates hosts homeless, neglected and abused children to a special night that includes a Christmas shopping spree. He is also the honorary chairman for the annual Shoot to Cure HD, which raises much-needed research funds for the Huntington's Disease Society of America. And he works closely with Promises2Kids, an organization that offers support to San Diego's foster youth community.
Gates' route to the NFL has been well-chronicled. When he signed with the Chargers in 2003, he had not played football since his senior season at Central High School in Detroit. He began his collegiate career at Michigan State under the assumption that he could play both football and basketball. When the football coach relented, Gates chose to focus on hoops and decided it was best to leave the East Lansing campus. An up-and-down start to his basketball career sent him to three different schools before he finally found a home at Kent State, where in two seasons he helped lead the Golden Flashes to back-to-back Mid-American Conference championships and the Elite Eight of the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Gates ended his career as the sixth-leading scorer in school history and in Feb. 2010, he returned to the Kent, Ohio, campus to have his No. 44 jersey retired by the school.
Gates' paternal grandfather, Henry Hank, was a professional boxer in the 1950s and '60s who fought 97 professional bouts as a middleweight and light heavyweight, winning 62 of them. His 1962 fight against Joey Giardello was voted the Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine. Old photos show a striking resemblance between Gates and his grandfather. Gates' cousin, Tony Harrison is one of boxing's top young middleweights. Harrison has started his career 18-0 with 15 wins by knockout.
Had Gates not opted for a career in athletics, he might have tried his hand as a firefighter. A couple of years ago, a group of firefighters attended a training camp practice and one of the most enamored players was Gates. He told several that long ago he'd dreamed of being a firefighter. So several weeks later, the assistant San Diego fire chief returned to Chargers Park and presented Gates with a SDFD firefighting jacket with his own name and number.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Signed with Chargers, May 2, 2003…signed six-year contract Aug. 22, 2005...signed new six-year contract through 2015, July 28, 2010.
2014: Led team with six catches and 81 yards Week 1 at Arizona...targeted team-high 10 times...several big third down plays in game...12-yard catch on 3rd-and-4 on opening series...in fourth quarter, drew holding penalty on 3rd-and-play then later in same series had game-long 34-yard catch to Arizona 31 on 3rd-and-13 play...with his performance against the Cardinals, Gates upped his career receiving total to 9,274 yards and moved past Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie Joiner (9,203) for second place on the team’s all-time receiving yardage list... first-career AFC Offensive Player of Week award after tying career-high with three touchdown catches vs. defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks in 30-21 win Week 2...caught first two on 3rd-and-goal plays from eight-yard line and third from 21 on 2nd-and-20...led team with 96 yards on seven catches...touchdowns were 88th, 89th and 90th of career, moving him past Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Reed and Don Maynard for 11th on the NFL’s all-time touchdown receptions list...Oct. 5 vs. New York Jets, caught 91st and 92nd touchdown passes of career to move past Isaac Bruce (91) and into 10th place on NFL’s all-time touchdown receptions list...touchdown catches were 64th and 65th between he and Rivers, extending their NFL record for touchdowns scored by QB-TE duo...first TD catch (8 yards) came on 3rd-and-4 play for 7-0 lead in first quarter...second came on 3rd-and-goal play from 12 for 14-0 lead...oneyard touchdown catch tied game vs. Raiders on Oct. 15 at 21-21...27- yard touchdown catch in second quarter Oct. 19 vs. Kansas City...had all three catches of game during TD drive, including seven-yarder on 3rdand- 3 and 27-yarder to 27 preceeding touchdown...became Chargers’ all-time leading receiver Oct. 23 at Denver, collecting 54 yards to surpass Lance Alworth (9,584 yards)...became all-time leader on 31-yard catch to Broncos’ two on 3rd-and-20 play to set up touchdown that tied game, 7-7...also drew 12-yard holding penalty on 3rd-and-7 during drive...later caught two touchdowns (4 and 10 yards) in second half to tie team record for most touchdown (9) in first eight games of season...caught first touchdown on 4th-and-goal play and that catch was 750th of career... during drive drew holding penalty on 3rd-and-1 from nine...Nov. 30 at Baltimore, logged 83 yards and moved past Lance Alworth (9,721) and into second place on team’s all-time list for career scrimmage yards... passed Alworth on 23-yard 3rd-and-1 catch...10th touchdown catch of season Dec. 14 vs. Denver to join New England’s Rob Gronkowski as only tight ends in NFL history with four 10-TD seasons...was 70th-career touchdown connection with Rivers, extending NFL record...two secondhalf touchdown catches in 38-35 overtime win at San Francisco Dec. 20... first score helped Bolts begin to erase 21-point deficit and second got Chargers to within 35-28 with 5:15 left in fourth quarter...first touchdown catch came on 3rd-down...during second, also had 21-yard catch on 3rd-and-4 play to help sustain drive...TD catches were 98th and 99th of career, moving him into tie for ninth all-time with Don Hutson...logged 67 receiving yards in Dec. 28 season finale at Kansas City to become 44th player, and fourth tight end (Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Shannon Sharpe), in NFL history to rack up more than 10,000 career yards.
2013: Pro Bowl third-alternate...team-high 124 yards in 33-30 win at Philadelphia Sept. 15...started game-winning drive with catches of 15 and 21 yards...in second quarter, lost fumble when hit from behind for first lost fumble since Sept. 2008...caught eight passes vs. Eagles to top 650 catches for career (652)...went over 500 career points, passing Lance Alworth for fifth on team’s career scoring list, on seven-yard touchdown catch in his 150th career game Sept. 22 at Tennessee...84th-career touchdown catch broke tie with Alworth for second-most touchdowns in team history...scored final points of 30-21 win over Dallas Sept. 29 on 56-yard TD catch in fourth quarter... was third-longest of his career and longest catch since Dec. 6, 2009 at Cleveland (56 yards)...finished with game-high 136 yards...also had 10 catches, raising career total to 667 to move past Ozzie Newsome (662) for fourthmost receptions by tight end in NFL history...five-yard touchdown catch Nov. 17 at Miami... apparent 2nd TD catch negated by illegal forward pass penalty... Game Ball after 41-38 win at Kansas City Nov. 24 after becoming fourth tight end in NFL history with 700 career catches and 9,000 yards...fastest player in NFL history to 9,000 yards (158 games) and third-fastest to 700 catches...biggest catch of game went for 12 yards and 1st down on 3rd-and-10 during team’s game-winning drive... that catch put him over 9,000 yards...four-yard touchdown catch in Dec. 29 season finale vs. K.C. tied game 14-14 in second quarter...30th-career 3rd-down TD catch.
2012: Caught 600th career pass Sept. 23 vs. Atlanta... became fifth tight end and 59th player in NFL history with 600 career catches...Oct. 15 vs. Denver caught two touchdown passes in first half for 15th-career multi-TD game...led team with 81 yards receiving to raise career yardage total to 8,007 and move past Ozzie Newsome for fourth-most yards by tight end in NFL history...touchdown catches were 50th and 51st of his career thrown by Philip Rivers...80th-career touchdown catch Nov. 11 at Tampa Bay...tied Lance Alworth's franchise record with 81st-career touchdown catch Dec. 16 vs. Carolina...became Chargers' all-time leader with 82nd-career touchdown catch (34 yards) for 24-14 lead in Dec. 23 win at New York Jets...83rd-career touchdown in Dec. 30 season finale vs. Oakland moved him into tie with Alworth for second-most total touchdowns in team history.
2011: Pro Bowl...caught eight passes Week 1 vs. Minnesota to move past LaDainian Tomlinson and into third place on team's all-time receptions list...inactive Weeks 3-5 (foot)... first touchdown catch of season Oct. 23 at NY Jets...70th-career TD catch to join Tony Gonzalez as only tight ends in NFL history with at least 70 scoring catches...finished game with five catches (542 career) and moved past Kellen Winslow (541) for second-most in team history...set up third quarter touchdown Dec. 5 at Jacksonville with seven-yard catch on 3rd-and-4 play, and at same time passed Gary Garrison for third on team's all-time receiving yardage list...earlier in game, kept another touchdown drive alive with 23-yard catch on 2nd-and-20 play...Dec. 11 vs. Buffalo, scored first touchdown of game, and during drive passed Garrison (7,562) for fourth on team's all-time list for career scrimmage yards…caught second touchdown pass in third quarter, 75th of his career to become 27th player overall and only second tight end (Gonzalez) in NFL history with 75 career TD catches...marked 14th-career multi-touchdown game and first of 2011...Dec. 24 in hometown of Detroit, Mich., caught team-record 587th career pass for six yards on 4th-and-5 in fourth quarter to pass Charlie Joiner (586) for all-time lead...Jan. 1 at Oakland, scored Chargers' first points on season-long 38-yard touchdown catch on 3rd-and-9...ignited next scoring drive with 37-yard catch and contributed to third-quarter TD drive with nine-yard catch on 3rd-and-4, followed by 16-yarder that put him at season-high 106 for game.
2010: Pro Bowl...second-team Associated Press All-Pro...led team with 10 touchdown catches...60th career touchdown catch Sept. 13 at Kansas City...Sept. 19 vs. Jacksonville, passed Steve Jordan (6,307) for seventh in NFL receiving yards by tight end...nine-yard touchdown in second quarter was 61st of career, breaking tie with Jerry Smith for the third most touchdowns by tight end in NFL history…later in second quarter, second touchdown catch (62) put him into tie with Shannon Sharpe for second among tight ends…12-yard touchdown pass in fourth quarter at Seattle Sept. 26 was 63rd-career, second-most all-time among NFL tight ends... seventh-straight game with touchdown, second-longest in team history...vs. Seattle passed Lance Alworth (493) for fourth-most catches in team history...two touchdowns Oct. 3 vs. Arizona, eighth-straight game with touchdown catch, one shy of Alworth's team record...caught 500th career pass vs. Cardinals to become seventh tight end in NFL history with at least 500 catches and fastest tight end in NFL history to reach 500...12 points vs. Arizona put him into sixth on team's all-time scoring list...19-yard touchdown catch in second quarter Oct. 10 at Oakland was team-record-tying ninth-straight game with touchdown (Alworth, 1963).. .injured foot Oct. 17 at St. Louis...Oct. 24 vs. New England, passed Winslow (6,741) for sixth-most yards by tight end in NFL history...touchdown catch in fourth quarter was eighth of season, extending league record of consecutive seasons with at least eight to seven...18th-career 100-yard game Oct. 31 vs. Tennessee, tying John Jefferson for seventh-most in team history...41st touchdown catch from Philip Rivers vs. Tennessee set new team record for quarterback-tight end combo...Dan Fouts & Winslow (40) held previous mark...missed first-career game due to injury (foot) Nov. 7 at Houston...placed on “Reserve-Injured” Dec. 30...did not play in Pro Bowl due to injury (foot).
2009: Pro Bowl Starter...second-team All-Pro by Associated Press and first-team by Sports Illustrated...Chargers co-Offensive Player of Year ...led team with 79 receptions and ranked second with career-high 1,157 yards...14.6 yards per catch average led all NFL tight ends...teamed with Vincent Jackson (1,167 yards) for Chargers' first 1,000-yard receiving duo since 1985, and combined to give Chargers most yards by receiving duo since 1980...Oct. 24 at Pittsburgh, 124 yards and first two touchdowns of season...first touchdown on 3rd-and-goal, plus catches of 26 on 3rd-and-8 and 16 on 3rd-and-15 during drive...over 100 yards on second touchdown...drew 26-yard pass interference penalty on separate touchdown drive...Game Ball after 118-yard, two-touchdown game vs. Kansas City Nov. 29...touchdowns were 54th and 55th of career, third-most all-time among tight ends...Dec. 13 at Dallas on receiving end of Philip Rivers' 100th career touchdown pass...Game Ball after career-high 167 yards at Cleveland Dec. 6...catches of 56 and 18 yards during drive when LaDainian Tomlinson scored 150th career touchdown...Dec. 25 at Tennessee, on receiving end of 36-yard touchdown that gives him new season career-high for yards and puts Rivers over 4,000 yards for season...moves into tie with Gary Garrison for second-most touchdown catches in team annals (58)...59th career touchdown catch Jan. 3 vs. Washington for second on team touchdown receptions list.
2008: Pro Bowl selection…48th-career touchdown catch late second quarter vs. New Orleans in London to move past Charlie Joiner for third-most touchdowns in team history…game-winning touchdown catch (eight yards) with 6:55 left in fourth quarter vs. Kansas City Nov. 9…Chargers Alumni co-Offensive Player of Month (December)…season-high two touchdowns Dec. 21 at Tampa Bay were 50th and 51st of career… fastest tight end in NFL history to 50 (92 gms), beating Jerry Smith (100)…over 5,000 career yards on first touchdown... second-fastest to 5,000 yards (Winslow, 69 gms)…two one-handed catches in Tampa Bay game...team-high eight catches in Jan. 5 Wild Card overtime win vs. Indianapolis…did not play in Pro Bowl (ankle).
2007: Pro Bowl starter…All-AFC by Pro Football Weekly and Professional Football Writers of America…17-yard halfback-option touchdown catch from Tomlinson in 14-3 Opening Day win vs. Chicago…Game Ball after 113 yards and touchdown Oct. 7 vs. Denver…touchdowns of 49 and 31 yards vs. Houston Oct. 28...over 4,000 career receiving yards in Texans' game (68th career)...third-fastest tight end in NFL history to 4,000 behind Winslow (58 games) and Mike Ditka (67)…two touchdown catches vs. Baltimore Nov. 25 (41 and 42 yards) to crack top-five on team's touchdown reception list…game-tying touchdown (two yards) with :09 left in fourth quarter of overtime win at Tennessee Dec. 9…in overtime, 11-yard catch on 3rd-and-4 of game-winning touchdown drive…toe injury in Wild Card vs. Tennessee…played in Divisional Playoffs and Championship Game with injured toe, but did not play in Pro Bowl.
2006: Pro Bowl…first-team All-Pro by Associated Press, Sporting News, USA Today Sports Weekly, Pro Football Weekly and Professional Football Writers of America, Sports Illustrated, SportsIllustrated.com, and ESPN.com ...All-AFC by PFW and PFWA...NFL.com All-Interview… second-longest career touchdown (57 yards) at San Francisco Oct. 15 …19-yard touchdown catch from Tomlinson in 21-14 win vs. Oakland Nov. 26…Chargers Alumni Player of Week after 104 yards and two TDs Dec. 10 vs. Denver... first-career 100-yard game and touchdowns vs. Broncos… leading receiver in Jan. 14 AFC Playoffs vs. New England.
2005: Pro Bowl starter…first-team All-Pro by Associated Press, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and SportsIllustrated.com, ESPN.com, Pro Football Weekly and Professional Football Writers of America, and USA Today Sports Weekly…Chargers co-Offensive Player of Year…Pro Football Weekly Midseason All-Pro…tied team record for catches by tight end (89) and yards (1,101) were most by Bolts' tight end since '83 (Winslow)...second tight end in NFL history (Todd Christensen, '83) with 1,100-yard, 10 touchdown season...23 touchdown catches between 2004-05, most ever by tight end over two-year span...did not play Week 1 vs. Dallas (roster exemption)…Chargers Alumni Player of Week after tying career-high with three touchdowns and season-high 10 catches and 145 yards Oct. 30 vs. Kansas City...132 yards week later at New York Jets…27-yard touchdown catch for 14-3 lead over Buffalo Nov. 20, but injured foot in third quarter and did not return… started following week at Washington and 24-yard catch on first play of overtime immediated preceded game-winning 41-yard touchdown run…123 yards vs. Miami Dec. 11 to raise season total to new career-high of 997...career-high 13 catches vs. Dolphins, including eight-yard touchdown with :15 left in fourth quarter.
2004: Pro Bowl starter… first-team All-Pro by Associated Press, Football Digest, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and SportsIllustrated.com…second-team All-Pro by College & Pro Football NewsÂweekly…All-NFL, All-AFC and All-Pro second-team by Pro Football Weekly and Professional Football Writers of America…NFL Alumni Association Tight End of Year…Chargers Offensive Player of Year…season-high 123 yards in Week 1 at Houston…Chargers Alumni Player of Week after season-high three touchdowns vs. New Orleans Nov. 7…first Chargers receiver with three touchdown catches in game since '97 (Tony Martin vs. Baltimore) and first three-touchdown game by Bolts tight end since '83 (Winslow vs. Kansas City)…10th and 11th touchdowns in fourth quarter at Kansas City Nov. 28 to set new single-season mark for tight ends (Winslow and Willie Frazier, 10)…eight scores in four games tied Wes Chandler for most by Charger in four-game stretch…career-long 72-yard touchdown in AFC West-clinching win at Cleveland Dec. 19…12th touchdown of season tied NFL record for tight ends…set tight end single- season touchdown record with 13th at Indianapolis Dec. 26…one-yard touchdown catch with :11 left in fourth quarter forced overtime in Wild Card vs. N.Y. Jets…made 21 and 44-yard catches during drive…12-yard touchdown from Peyton Manning for 28-7 lead in second quarter of 38-27 Pro Bowl win Feb. 13.
2003: First-career touchdown Nov. 9 vs. Minnesota from Doug Flutie… season-high 117 yards vs. Green Bay Dec. 14, including season-long 48-yard catch… first 100-yard receiving game by Chargers rookie since Wayne Walker at Washington (1989).
COLLEGE: Honorable mention Associated Press All-America as senior after averaging 20.6 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game…first-team All-Mid-American Conference and runner-up for MAC Player of Year…sixth in school history with 1,216 points…spent first college semester at Michigan State...transferred to Eastern Michigan in Spring '99, averaging 10.2 ppg and 7.4 rpg…attended College of Sequoias in 2000-01 but did not play…general studies major.
PERSONAL: Born in Detroit, Mich.…led Detroit Central High to Class A state championship as senior …first-team all-state in football and basketball.