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Antonio Gates Details Emotions Ahead of Chargers Hall of Fame Induction 


Antonio Gates' Hall of Fame moment has arrived.

Well, the first one at least.

The iconic Bolts tight end will be inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon at halftime against the Broncos.

Gates, who will be the 41st member to join the legendary club, recently chatted with about the milestone moment.

"I try to stay poised, but I've got chills because it's a big moment for me. I'm still wrapping my head around that," Gates said. "Everybody keeps asking me [how I'm feeling] but I don't know what it's going to be like until it happens.

"Even when they announced me at the Chargers facility, I didn't know I was going to be crying and all that," Gates continued. "It's a moment you work for and you work hard to get there.

"But the reality once you go in, is that it's generally what people say about you and how they feel," Gates added. "And it's a pretty incredible feeling."

Gates will be the third tight end in franchise history to go into the Chargers Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Kellen Winslow and Jacque Mackinnon.

But few, if any, players at Gates' position can match his renowned resumé.

An eight-time Pro Bowl selection, Gates was also a member of five Associated Press All-Pro teams and is a member of the NFL's All Decade Team (2000-09). He was also honored on the Chargers 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

An undrafted free agent who joined the Bolts in 2003, Gates finished his career with 955 receptions for 11,841 yards and 116 touchdowns — all totals that rank first in Chargers history.

Gates' 116 touchdown receptions are the most by a tight end in NFL history, as are his 21 career multi-touchdown games.

Gates' 39 touchdown receptions on third down are also the most in league history at tight end and tied with Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter for third overall.

Over the course of his career, Gates registered eight seasons with eight-plus receiving touchdowns, the most ever by a tight end and tied for fifth all-time.

But for all of Gates' accolades, among the things he's most proud of is spending his entire 16-year career in powder blue.

"That's something that came from fear, you know? Fear of getting cut, fear of not making the team. I always kept that with me throughout my career," Gates said. "Every year was my first year and I was a free agent.

"Even when I was an All-Pro, I felt like they needed to see a difference when I run suicides and see a difference when I play," Gates continued.

"I need to look like an All-Pro. I always maintain this edge every single year. There was some fear that was there," Gates added. "'Can you still do it again? Oh, when you're 33 can you still do it now?' I always use that little mechanism as an instrument to influence me to play at a high level. And that kept me going 16 years."

Gates will join a legendary list Sunday afternoon when he goes into the Chargers Hall of Fame.

He likely has more honors coming his way.

Gates was recently announced as one of 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2024.

And there's a strong chance he makes it to Canton on his first try.

"Not too high, not too low. It's kind of like a marathon, right? You just stay on course and you try not to get too high on yourself," Gates said. "You're still pushing for it and I think that's just where I'm at.

"My next step is the Chargers Hall of Fame. Boom," Gates continued. "OK, now I'm a semifinalist? Boom.

"Somebody asked me, if you make it, who's gonna bring you out? I ain't got to them steps yet," Gates added. "That comes after you get elected, you know what I mean? I'm just following the pecking order right now."

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