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Chargers great Antonio Gates announces his retirement

Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Football

LOS ANGELES -- One year and one day after he caught his final NFL pass, Antonio Gates formally retired Tuesday.

He spent all 16 seasons of his career with the Chargers, finishing with 116 touchdown receptions, the most ever by a tight end.

An eight-time Pro Bowl selection, Gates also made five All-Pro teams and is the Chargers' franchise leader in catches (955) and receiving yards (11,841). He's eligible for Pro Football Hall of Fame election in 2023.

"I find it hard to officially put this statement out and retire from the game of football," Gates wrote on social media. "I never dreamed that I would play this game of football so long or how fortunate I would be to play it with just one organization."

In a news release issued by the team, Gates thanked everyone from Chargers owner Dean Spanos to his own family to the team's fans in San Diego and Los Angeles.

He also announced he would be joining the Chargers in a community relations role.

 

"Antonio is not only one of the greatest Chargers to ever play the game, he's one of the greatest players in NFL history," Spanos said in the news release. "His contributions to our organization over the course of an unprecedented 16-year career, both on the field and in the community, cannot be overstated."

Gates, 39, appeared in his final game Jan. 13, 2019, the day the Chargers lost 41-28 at frigid New England in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

In the final minute, he caught an eight-yard scoring pass from Philip Rivers. The two connected for 89 touchdowns, the most ever for a quarterback-tight end duo.

In the team's statement, Rivers praised Gates for his competitiveness and friendship, and expressed his love for his teammate of 15 years.

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