Famously a college basketball player who never played football at the college level, Gates caught the eye of the Chargers in a workout and signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003.
Thanks to his personal accomplishments, Gates will certainly be a Hall of Fame candidate although it remains to be seen whether or not his efforts will not just be recognized but rewarded as well.
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.
Gates was named first-team All-Pro three times and to eight Pro Bowl teams.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and Gates combined for 89 touchdowns, most in National Football League history from a quarterback-tight end tandem. He played at Detroit Central High School.
He ended up playing in 15 games during his rookie campaign and was impressive, logging 24 catches for 389 yards and a couple of touchdowns. While it may have been for the best, there were dreams of getting to watch Gates hoist the Lombardi trophy with Philip Rivers and ride off into the sunset, getting the piece of hardware that many so desperately desire.
Gates originally traveled to MI to play soccer under Saban and basketball with Tom Izzo, the Spartans' head coach.
But he soon transformed into one of the game's leading players in his position and retires as the Chargers' career leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns - he became only the second tight end in history to reach 100 career touchdowns during the 2015 season. Obviously, Gates' longevity and ability to stay healthy - something Gronk's career lacked - played a huge role in that.
Gates' unlikely and spectacular career is even more special because he went the distance with one team.
Gates' legacy will forever be coveted by fans of the Chargers, as well as his former teammates and coaches. Who would've thought that many years later we would have the most touchdowns ever between a quarterback and tight end?
Director General Tom Telesco hopes that Gates won't have to wait long for his chance to get to Canton. "He didn't just do one thing well, he did everything well". And that makes it the first choice in the Hall of Famer in my book.