Is Antonio Gates Already A Hall Of Fame Player?

Antonio Gates
As one of the most dominant offensive weapons in the game, Antonio Gates causes defensive coordinators around the league to lose sleep at night trying to devise schemes in which to contain number 85. The five-time Pro Bowler helped put the spotlight on the tight end position and has scouts nationwide looking to find the next "Antonio Gates." Gates holds numerous records and is widely considered to be one of the best players in the NFL, but after six illustrious seasons in the books has he done enough already to be considered a Hall Of Fame player?

I posed the topic to ESPN's Bill Williamson and the San Diego Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee and got some interesting responses:

"He needs to play a few more years, but he's virtually guaranteed to go in," says Kevin Acee. "He didn't redefine the position. Kellen Winslow did that 20 years earlier. But Gates' emergence did change the way the position is scouted, in a way. Look at the attempt by teams to find the next hoops-star-turned-tight-end."

"His touchdown numbers are amazing. Remember, no tight end reached 50 career touchdowns faster than Gates (92 games). Winslow (the elder) is the only TE to reach 5,000 receiving yards faster than Gates."

ESPN's AFC West blogger Bill Williamson formerly covered the Denver Broncos for the Denver Post. He's seen the type of career Shannon Sharpe had and knows that it's not easy for tight ends to earn a place in Canton.

"Shannon Sharpe proved this February that is difficult for a tight end to get into the hall of fame," Williamson said. "I, along with many others, thought Sharpe would be a slam dunk. But he will have to wait another year. Now, whenever Tony Gonzalez is eligible, he should get in without problems because his numbers are simply sick."

"I think Gates is a hall of fame-type player, considering his unique story and the impact he has had on a great offense. But he still has a ways to go. If Gates has another four to five big years, he’ll make a strong case. But Sharpe has sterling credentials and still he waits.
It’s no knock on Gates, it’s just the reality of playing that position."

There have only been 7 modern-era tight ends inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Mike Ditka 1961-1972
John Mackey 1963-1972
Jackie Smith 1963-1978
Charlie Sanders 1968-1977
Dave Casper 1974-1984
Ozzie Newsome 1978-1990
Kellen Winslow 1979-1987

Outside of Placekicker, the tight end position has the lowest number of inductees currently in the Hall. Tony Gonzalez, now of the Atlanta Falcons, is generally regarded as already having a career worthy of the Hall of Fame. Shannon Sharpe has been eligible, but he hasn't garnered the necessary votes yet.

The question is, has Antonio Gates done enough already through his career to be worthy of the Hall of Fame, or does he still have more to accomplish in the game? As this season gets underway, can we reference Gates as a "future Hall of Famer" the way we do with players like Peyton Manning and Ladainian Tomlinson, or is it still too early to bestow such an accolade? I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter, please vote and give your take in the comments section below...

June 10, 2009

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Rick said... Jun 10, 2009, 3:42:00 PM

I don't think Gatesy is a first ballot hall of famer just yet, but a couple more Gates-like seasons under his belt and he'll get in no problem

Anonymous said... Jun 10, 2009, 5:46:00 PM

Gates has done things no other tight end has done before him. His numbers are already better than some of the other great HOFers from years past and the guy is still young! Let him keep playing and he'll shatter the record books!

Neoplatonist Bolthead said... Jun 10, 2009, 7:15:00 PM

If Gates has 5 more good years, with at least 1 more 10-TD year, he'll make it with ease.

Jeff Williams said... Jun 11, 2009, 7:15:00 AM

Unfortunately, Gonzalez is setting a new standard for TE's. At Gates' pace, he should get in, but he'll need to hit Gonzalez-like numbers (10000+ yards and 76 TD's and counting)to get into the Hall.

Kevin said... Jun 11, 2009, 9:48:00 AM

A key aspect to the HOF vote is longevity. Although Gates maintains many records and deserves accolades for his performance to date, he has yet to prove that he is a guaranteed HoFer. If he spends another 4 or 5 years contributing at the level he currently is, he should get in within his first few years of eligibility. However, like Sharpe, he won't get in on the first ballot.

Anonymous said... Jun 15, 2009, 9:43:00 PM

Antonio Gates is easily one of the best tight ends to have ever played NFL football, but I doubt he would get into the Hall of Fame now if his career were to mysteriously end now. Why? Because, despite eye-popping numbers and video-highlight reels to die for, careers like Gates' are a microcosm of what's wrong with the modern corporate game and inherent problems trying to rate individual players in a team sport.
If Antonio had had a stellar college career as a tight end and retired tomorrow, he might make it in; but as someone who was UNdrafted yet enormously successful, his career makes the prognosticator industry look less than the Grand Pooba's they purport to be. Ditto for Gates' quick ascent to lofty numbers. Naysayers will mention Brees' lack of success with the deep pass, or L.T.'s phenominal success will be used as a "qualifier" against Gates' induction merit as he was "only a part" of a great offensive team. It's ironic, even foolish, but Gates needs to escape the "shadow" of L.T.'s iconic career to solidly define his own. Nowadays Jackson, Sproles, and others are getting more balls thrown to them too. So it will be, by offensive design, probably difficult for Gates to continue on with the pace of his earlier success; and that's assuming he can stay healthy. But whatever accolades may come his way eventually, he has been just fantastic to watch as a Charger. Personally, I'd even rate him slightly above the great Kellen Winslow here, and Winslow's in the HoF. Winslow's career here also reiterates my earlier point; he was pivotal to the NFL to a large degree because his position was pivotal to the passing attack introduced to the NFL by Don Coryell and his staff. Yet, AMAZINGLY, relatvely few folks are clamoring so much for Coryell's overdue induction into the HoF!? Coryell deserves to be there as much as anyone, period! But Don loved football and football players first and foremost, and never did the Corporate or media dance. Truth is, none are so blind as those that refuse to see.

Anonymous said... Jun 23, 2009, 1:21:00 AM

To say that Antonio Gates being undrafted "makes the prognosticators look less like the Grand Poobas they purport to be" is not a legitimate criticism. They were suppose to know that someone who never played a single down of college football was going to be a pro bowler? Gates entered the NFL at 24, I bring this up because we have to wonder how many years will he play in the NFL. The late start could take an extra 2 or 3 seasons from him that he could possibly have needed to get into the HoF.

BoltFan said... Jul 12, 2009, 7:29:00 AM

I think you have to love the fact that Gates has come in undrafted. To me, that why he gets in. Everything he does looks effortless. He makes his job look easy. That's what tells me he is GREAT! You wont see him struggling to get 2-3 extra yards, he seemlessly gets lumps of 10-20 yards a catch. We had a discussion like this at, and compared Gates to Winslow Sr. The nubers say it all. Gates is the real deal!

Stair Gates said... Oct 26, 2009, 1:45:00 PM

I say yet to Gates.

Jogger Strollers said... Nov 20, 2009, 8:54:00 AM

I think he is.

Towel Warmers said... Dec 7, 2009, 7:31:00 AM

He is good.

Solar Attic Fan said... Dec 12, 2009, 5:53:00 PM

Gates is da bomb.

Bicycle Trailers said... Dec 23, 2009, 9:09:00 AM

Gates is good

Anonymous said... Aug 7, 2010, 5:03:00 PM

he will most likely get in.

but i wouldnt start calling him "future hall-of-famer antonio gates" just yet.

ShoppingBlox said... Oct 7, 2010, 11:24:00 AM

The simple answer is yes.

Dog Pens said... Oct 7, 2010, 11:25:00 AM

I agree. yes

Car Top Carriers said... Oct 7, 2010, 11:25:00 AM

Yes to hall of fame.

Porch Swings said... Oct 7, 2010, 11:26:00 AM

I think he'll make it.

Loading Ramps said... Apr 7, 2011, 7:04:00 AM

What has Gates done for us lately?

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