Through 14 seasons, Antonio Gates has authored one of the finest careers in NFL history.
Currently tied with Tony Gonzalez for the most touchdown catches ever by a tight end with 111, he chuckles when thinking how his career-defining moment will occur in Los Angeles. Gates realizes it is a moment that can galvanize a fan base, providing a unique memory in the team's first season in L.A.
"It's funny," he says, taking a deep breath. "All my memories were in San Diego, but probably the biggest moment of my career will be in L.A. I hope Los Angeles embraces that and gives us the opportunity to prove we are a good football team. At the same time, I have so many memories in San Diego that I just really want to thank all the fans (there) who have supported me and supported this team over the years. Hopefully, you will continue to do that going to L.A."
Gates' record-breaking touchdown figures to be a defining moment of the Bolts' first season in Los Angeles. However, he believes it will be just the tipping point in what can be a special season for the team.
As the Chargers return for the start of the offseason program, number 85 looks around the locker room and can't help but get excited. He sees a ton of potential, yet knows that only gets the team so far.
That's why the soon to be 37-year old plans to be around more during the offseason than recent years.
The program is voluntary, and Gates has traditionally trained on his own to prepare for the season. But with a new head coach in place, he felt it is more prudent to spend this offseason at the facility.
"I felt it was time to change things up," he explained. "Every year, I have a situation where I come in with the idea of changing things up and doing something different. This year I said to myself that I wanted to come in and do a little more with the team. Obviously I'd always come around in the past still here and there and get acclimated with the guys, but this year I want to be more of a part of what is going on because we have a new coaching staff. We have a new conditioning coach."
These new faces invigorate Gates, who stresses he needs to prove himself all over again despite a resume worthy of the Hall of Fame.
"They know of Antonio Gates, but they don't *know *Antonio Gates," he said. "They may have known from a distance, but they don't know me as a person. So I am trying to do what I need to do to show them who I am, and what they can expect from me."
Presenting your 2017 Los Angeles Chargers.