Antonio Gates is one step closer to making the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The former Chargers tight end — one of the best to ever play his position — is one of 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2024.
The Hall of Fame announced the news on Tuesday morning. The Hall of Fame will trim the group to 15 finalists in January before the 2024 Class is announced during Super Bowl weekend.
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. He spent his entire 16-year career in powder blue.
Gates' 116 touchdown receptions are the most by a tight end in NFL history, as are his 21 career 21 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 WR Cris Carter for No. 3 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 No. 5 all-time.
The Bolts announced last month that Gates will be inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame during the 2023 season.
Gates, the 41st member enshrined into the Chargers Hall of Fame, will be honored during Week 14 against Denver.
"As I've said many times now, Antonio is not only one of the greatest Chargers to ever play the game, he's one of the greatest players in NFL history," Controlling Owner and Chairman of the Board Dean Spanos said in September. "That couldn't be any truer today than it was at the time of his retirement. As the years have passed, and as the game has continued to evolve, it's impossible not to notice the impact Antonio has had on the modern NFL and the way team's utilize tight ends. Just as Kellen Winslow forever changed the position decades earlier, Antonio redefined what it meant to be a tight end in the 21st century. His contributions to our organization, on the field and off, are those of a Hall of Famer. This was, to me, always a mere formality. After we celebrate him at SoFi Stadium this December, I look forward to doing it once again in Canton."
Harrison, Freeney Also Named HOF Semifinalists
In addition to Gates, former Chargers safety Rodney Harrison is also a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his third time making it to this point.
Harrison was drafted by the Chargers in fifth round of the 1994 NFL Draft (145th overall) and went on to spend nine seasons with the team. He was a Pro Bowl selection twice during his tenure. A two-time Super Bowl champion later in his career and two-time First-Team All-Pro, Harrison also was honored on the Chargers 40th and 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Harrison did it all as a player and helped set the modern standard for safeties across the league. He owns the NFL record for most sacks (30.5) of any defensive back in NFL history as well as one of only two players with both 30 sacks and 30 interceptions.
And finally, defensive end Dwight Freeney was the final former member of the Bolts to make Tuesday's semifinal list.
Freeney spent two seasons with the Chargers from 2013-14, and is a member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s. His 125.5 career sacks rank 18th all-time.
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