Eli Manning scoffs at Chargers’ Antonio Gates pitch

Eli Manning gave an easy joke to Antonio Gates to put in his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech.

If the two joined for the first time after a five-year waiting period, Gates would get a statue of Manning based on his pre-retirement in Canton a year before. Manning might have been Manning instead of Phillip Rivers throwing all those touchdown passes to Gates over the years, but Manning famously forced a 2004 draft-day trade from the Chargers to the Giants.

And, apparently, he made fun of Gates’ ability back then.

“The whole Antonio Gates deal, I remember they were talking to me about him,” Manning said during “10 Questions with Kyle Brandt,” which will be released on Spotify on Wednesday. “They were like, ‘Hey, we have this very tight end that we think is going to be a superstar. He’s never played football before. He played basketball, but he’s going to be a great tight end. count on us.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, right. Yeah, that happens all the time.’ “

Kudos to Manning for an honest quote after all these years. Of course, few would have guessed that Gates—a former Kent State basketball player who went without a draft after lightly participating in a pre-draft football workout—was the all-time number in touchdown catches (between the first tight ends). Will rank 7 and not 17 in reception (3rd among tight ends).

Eli Manning and Antonio Gates
Eli Manning did not believe that Antonio Gates could make the transition from basketball to football.
Robert Sabo; Neil Miller (inset)

Manning led the Giants to two Super Bowl victories, and his No. 10 was retired last month. The Chargers never made it to a Super Bowl with Rivers, but had a successful run with a core that included Gates, Ladenian Tomlinson and Shawn Merriman—a linebacker selected with a pick received from the Giants for Manning. Was.

Manning again tried to rest that his agent Tom Condon or his father Archie was behind his refusal to play in San Diego.

“I was worried about the Chargers organization at the time,” Manning said. “I thought it was the right decision, and I had a bit of a stretch. I tried to say quietly, ‘Hey, please don’t draft me, and this might be our little secret.’ He didn’t keep his secret part of it well. My dad tried to take some heat off me. He knew I would be criticized. At first he didn’t like the idea as it was going to cause a lot of drama.”

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