The end of the 2018 season marked the end of an era, not only for the Chargers, but for the NFL. After 15 seasons together with the Chargers, the players that made up what many consider to be the best quarterback-tight end combo of all time had played together for the last time.
Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates are synonymous with Chargers football. They both spent 16 years with the team, and between the two of them, only one season of their combined 33 years in the NFL was with another franchise — and that occurred after Gates announced his retirement in 2020.
Rivers and Gates not only hold the Chargers franchise record for total number of touchdowns between a quarterback and a receiver or tight end; they rank third behind Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison and Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski — the latter of who only recently surpassed Rivers and Gates for the second spot on the all-time list — for touchdowns during the regular season with 89.
And while stats are at least part of the argument for Rivers and Gates being one of the best quarterback-tight end combos of all time, it's not the only reason.
By accomplishing what was previously only thought possible by quarterbacks and receivers, they showed the league just how much of an offensive threat a quarterback and a tight end can be, changing the game forever and keeping Chargers fans on the edge of their seats for the better part of 20 years.