Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) runs the ball during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 19-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
On the day before the Fourth of July weekend the NFL released a list of suspension news that will directly impact the AFC West as one of the greatest tight ends of all time has fallen from grace with a failed test for PEDs that will see him miss the first four games of the season. A shocking development that will seriously impact the first quarter of the 2015 season in the Oakland Raiders division.
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Antonio Gates was confirmed to have been suspended for the first four games of the season, missing the opening month of the Chargers schedule while also having his legacy as one of the true greats of the game at his position somewhat tainted by the development that he may have been using PEDs to extend his illustrious career.
ESPN confirmed the suspension, and Gates quickly issued a statement denying that he was knowingly using any banned substances. Claiming that he has always used a ‘holistic approach’ and blaming unlisted products in some of the supplements/medicines as he was using as the reason for his failed test that is now leading to his unfortunate suspension to start 2015.
There is a good chance that Gates, who has never been suspended for PEDs during his long career, is telling the truth in that he didn’t knowingly take any banned substances to lead to his suspension. However that is irrelevant to what is now a blow to the start of the Chargers season as they will be missing their leader on offense in Gates who is still the top target of Philip Rivers in the passing game. Luckily for San Diego, Gates will miss four non-divisional games and unluckily for the Raiders will be back in time for the Chargers game against Oakland on October 25.
San Diego are likely to contend for a playoff spot yet again even with Gates’ PED suspension looming, but missing the tight end for four games will certainly make things harder as the well respected player’s shock suspension will be one of the major storylines surrounding the Chargers come September. Expect Rivers and company to overcome the absence of the 35 year old tight end who will come back fresher and well rested in October, but it is a setback for the Raiders division rival nonetheless that took the league by surprise to start the July news cycle around the NFL.