Despite Suspension, Antonio Gates’ Legacy Remains Untainted

Photo taken by Rob Carr of Getty Images.

Photo taken by Rob Carr of Getty Images.

Don’t be shaken by the drug test results for Antonio Gates. The man simply made a mistake, and there’s nothing more to think of it.

Gates’ most recent drug test revealed a performance enhancing drug within his system, which as a result, will land the tight end with a four game suspension to kick of the 2015 season. Despite the opportunity to appeal, Gates was adamant in accepting the punishment for not further researching the components of substance in which he took.

In comparison to Indianapolis’ Robert Mathis, Gates also failed to remember to check with the NFL about whether or not he was allowed to use that substance. Both athletes were misled about the substances, as the ingredients of each drug were not clearly detailed and decided not to contact the NFL for assurance that what they were doing was legal.

This, of course, was their fault and they do deserve a punishment as a result. But their punishment should take away from their legacy. What speaks more to a mistake committed is the intent behind it; when someone intentionally circumvents the rules, that’s where one’s legacy may be labeled tainted.

The intent of Antonio Gates was not to cheat. It was a “holistic” approach in an effort to recover from injuries sustained last year, and there is nothing to dispute it.

Gates has never and would never be associated with something so low as to intend to cheat. Not a whiff of controversy has been associated with his name in regards to his on-the-field play.

To think the tight end’s intention was to take an illegal substance in an attempt to get back to the Pro Bowl after a four year absence is absurd. Depending on the way one could look at it, it’s fair to say Gates’ game is aging like fine wine.

The eight time Pro Bowler hauled in 12 touchdowns last year, which marks the second highest of his career. In the 2013 season, Gates posted his highest catching mark since 2009. It is safe to say his regression is minimal if at all.

His work ethic is second to none, which is why he has been a star in the league as long he has. His ability to mentor athletes stands out even more. Ladarius Green, his apparent successor at tight end, has expressed his fair share of compliments for what he has done.

“He has taught me so much and I can still learn more. He is a great person all around so it’s a great situation for me,” said Green.

It was inevitable to see how Gates would impact this league, as he was simply destined to be not just an All-Time great, but only fall short to his former AFC rival Tony Gonzalez at tight end.

Tied for most 10+ touchdown seasons by a tight end with four, third in yards for a tight end, and third in receptions as well. He also ranks fourth among tight ends in 100 yard games in a career and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

It’s fair to say Gates has already solidified his spot as the second best tight end of All Time and still has plenty left in the tank to continue to dominate at his 6’4″ and 260 pound stature.

A blemish on this otherwise prodigious career that simply lacks evidence to suggest it’s anything more than a mistake should not compromise this man’s induction into the Hall of Fame. The mistake speaks less to affecting their character than the people prescribing the medicines to properly notify these athletes of what they are actually consuming.