Talent has never been a question for Antonio Gates.
The former Kent State University basketball talent turned NFL superstar tight end produces elite numbers when he’s on the field, it’s just staying on the field that has been the problem.
During the last three seasons, Gates has struggled to stay healthy and although he tried to play through the nagging injuries, it clearly devalued his game.
Now 33-years-old, the eventual Hall of Famer knows his career is on the down slope and he wants to make sure he goes out with a bang, including improved conditioning to go along with his apparently healthy feet:
“It’s the motivation, man,” he said when asked what the deal was with his chiseled physique. “… Just hearing people talk. I know you’re not supposed to listen to what people say, but there’s some collective things that got me motivated.”
Gates has, indeed, appeared quicker this spring and summer than in any of the past three. His body has betrayed him by Fall before, of course, but if the Chargers are to again be an efficient offense in 2013, perhaps it will be recalled as fortunate that motivation gave focus to Gates’ desire.