It’s impossible to think of Antonio Gates without immediately also thinking of Philip Rivers.
After all, the two are forever linked together as the most successful quarterback-tight end duo in NFL history.
Thus, after hearing the news that the Bolts were bringing back the legendary tight end, number 17 reacted exactly how you’d think.
“I’m excited to have him back; it should be pretty easy for he and I to get on the same page,” he said with a laugh. “I just couldn’t picture him ever wearing another uniform.”
It’s easy to see why Rivers would have an ear-to-ear grin.
Not only are Rivers-to Gates’ 87 touchdowns the most ever for a quarterback and tight end, but the mark is the second-most of any duo in NFL history, trailing only Peyton Manning-to-Marvin Harrison.
Overall, Gates’ 114 TD receptions are the most by a tight end in NFL history. It’s also the sixth-most all-time of any player behind six Hall of Famers in Jerry Rice (197), Randy Moss (156), Terrell Owens (153), Cris Carter (130) and Marvin Harrison (128). In addition, his 927 catches rank 20th in NFL history while his 11,508 receiving yards rank 30th. Gates is one of just four tight ends in history to top 10,000 career receiving yards. He currently sits as the Chargers’ all-time regular-season leader in receptions (927), receiving yards (11,508) and touchdown catches (114).
As you’d expect, Rivers is far from the only Charger to be thrilled by the news of Gates’ return.
Mike Pouncey signed with the Bolts in March, and thus never had the chance to suit up alongside the tight end. His immediate reaction to learning they’d be playing together this season was priceless.
“It’s awesome!” he said. “He’s been a great player in our league for a long time. A Hall of Fame player, so it’s going to be an honor to play with him! The only bad part is that he and I use the same barber, so now I will be moved down to the number two spot now that he’s back. The barber had already warned me that he has the number one spot!”
And of course, those who have had the privilege of playing with the legendary tight end in the past also couldn’t be more excited to have him back for the 2018 campaign.
Here’s some more reaction from inside the locker room on the return of Antonio Gates:
LT Russell Okung: “I’m very happy to have Antonio Gates back. Our goal is to win the AFC West, and we will need all hands on deck. Gates is a red zone threat and a fierce competitor we need going into the season. We’re a more dynamic team with him, and I can’t wait to see what he does this year.”
FB Derek Watt: “It’s great to have Gates back both on the field and in the locker room. He’s a future Hall of Famer with a ton of experience and an incredible skillset that will definitely help us again this season. I know that he’ll come in ready to go right away. I can’t wait to get back to work with him!”
WR Tyrell Williams: “It’s awesome to hear he’s coming back! Having him here in the locker room and around the building is huge. And of course, on the field, we all know what he does there!”
Stay tuned throughout the day for more reaction to Gates returning into the fold.