One of the NFL's greatest tight ends is set to enter the Chargers Hall of Fame.
Antonio Gates will officially be enshrined by the club he spent his entire career with on Dec. 10, during halftime of Los Angeles' game against the Denver Broncos.
"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," Chargers owner Dean Spanos said in a statement released by the club. "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."
Gates rose from humble beginnings as an undrafted free agent by the Chargers in 2003 to become the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown catches by a tight end with 116. The explosive tight end played 16 seasons with the club split between San Diego and Los Angeles, retiring in 2018 with eight Pro Bowls, three All-Pro seasons and 955 receptions for 11,841 yards -- both third-most ever at his position.
He was also included on the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team and is already a member of the Chargers' 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Alongside quarterback Philip Rivers, who he was paired with in all but his rookie year, Gates was an integral part of one of the most successful periods in Chargers history, which included five postseason trips during a six-year span from 2004-2009.
"He no doubt is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game," Rivers said of Gates at the time of the tight end's retirement. "He is the master of a pivot 3 and a 7 route. He ran all of the others pretty dang good also. He will be in the HOF, and it's well deserved."
Gates is now set to become the 41st member enshrined into the Chargers Hall of Fame.
He will do so in his first year of eligibility for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a destination sure to be added at some point to his long and growing list of accomplishments.