If you’ve been keeping up with the Hustle Hall of Fame over the last few weeks, you are aware of what’s happening. Fan voting has decided the first of two entrants for each MAC member to craft an inaugural Class of 2017 for the Hustle Hall of Fame. Next up to be inducted to the Hustle Hall of Fame is former member of the Kent State Golden Flashes, Antonio Gates.
When it comes to Antonio Gates, what isn’t up for debate is his accomplishments in sporting pursuits. The only thing on the fence is for which arena those accomplishments are the most impressive. At Kent State, Gates was an All-American basketball player, leading the Golden Flashes to two MAC titles and a subsequent NCAA Elite 8 run in the tournament. He is one of four retired basketball numbers for the Flashes.
But this is where that non-traditional path comes into play. Labeled just a bit off from the prototype for an NBA career, Gates tried out for NFL scouts and was signed immediately by the San Diego Chargers despite not playing a down of college football. That’s what I like to call destiny.
Gates’ career as a tight end for the Chargers would span 14 years and pile up 897 catches for 11,192 yards and 111 TDs. That’s a stat line anyone would love to have, but doing so from the tight end position makes him an all-timer, a sure-fire Hall of Fame entrant, and now, the latest entrant to the Hustle Hall of Fame.
Gates redefined the tight end position and set numerous records in the process. On October 3, 2010, Gates became the seventh tight end with 500 career receptions. On October 12, 2015, Gates became the ninth player, and second tight end, to catch 100 career receiving touchdowns. On January 1, 2017, Gates recorded his 111th touchdown reception, tying Tony Gonzalez for first place among tight ends for touchdown receptions. That’s a career unlike any other.
Congrats to Antonio Gates for his induction!