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These Seasoned Vets Talk Chasing Records and Their Favorite Local SD Spots

Written By: Matthew Simon Antonio Gates and Nick Hardwick of San Diego Chargers
Photographed By: Damien Noble Andrews Antonio Gates and Nick Hardwick of San Diego Chargers

Chasing the Record

Antonio Gates | # 85 | Position: Tight End | Years of Experience: 14

When you’ve been in the league for 13 years, you form an understanding of what it takes to make it through the grind of a 16-game season. Going into his 14th year, Antonio Gates decided to skip voluntary OTA’s, but when mandatory minicamp kicked off on June 14, number 85 was right where his teammates expect to see him, lined up to the left or right of the tackles.

Taking care of himself is the key to his success and makes some wonder if he ages at all.

“I’m like Opus One—as I get older, I feel better, ” Gates said when asked if he feels like he ever ages. “It’s one of those things, obviously just being able to take care of myself and I’ve been fortunate and lucky.”

Gates’ longevity in a physically demanding sport has him on the cusp of tying the record for most touchdown catches by a tight end, which is currently held by retired perennial Pro Bowler Tony Gonzalez with 111. At 104, Gates has a shot to break the record during the 2016 season and while team goals are the main objective the tight end’s quarterback, Philip Rivers would like to see him break the record. “I’m fired up about this year, ” Rivers said. “Our objective is team goals first, but I’d like to see him get there.”

Hut, Hut, Hike!

Catching Up With Retired San Diego Chargers Center Nick Hardwick

With the sun shining down at the Chargers first day of minicamp at Chargers Park, a familiar face was watching from the sidelines as season ticket holders got a sneak peek of the team.

Nick Hardwick, 11-year veteran and Pro Bowl selection decided to see how the team was doing while catching up with old friends.

“I’m really looking forward to everybody (the Chargers) brought in, ” Hardwick said about who he’s excited to see play this season. “I think what (Tom) Telesco and the management staff has done is bring in a bunch of strong character guys with strong leadership qualities, who can play football and make a big impact not only physically, but culturally.”

When asked about newcomer Matthew Slauson, Hardwick was quick to give his stamp of approval for the free agent acquisition and touched on what the veteran center can bring to the team. “Bringing his leadership and knowledge and that veteran experience to this offensive line is really going to pay dividends, ” Hardwick said. “(Based on) all accounts from guys he’s played with in Chicago, (they) were telling me how fantastic of a mentor he is, what kind of guy he is, and the toughness that he brings, you have one guy on the offensive line that can bring that in and he can change the entire mentality of the offensive line in one move.”

When asked about what made Hardwick stick around in San Diego, he had no problem putting the spotlight on the city of San Diego. “Everything is great about San Diego, ” Hardwick said. “The food is great, the fitness is great, the lifestyle—being able to be December (or) January walking around in shorts and a T-shirt—and just being active. It’s a really active city and for me it’s everything I could ask for.” Antonio Gates and Nick Hardwick of San Diego Chargers

The former Charger dished out the scoop on his go-to spot for great food in San Diego. “If I were to tell anybody to go to one restaurant, they’re coming to visit from out of town, one spot, C Level, ” Hardwick said. “It’s essential San Diego.” Antonio Gates and Nick Hardwick of San Diego Chargers

Qualcomm Stadium
9449 Friars Rd Antonio Gates and Nick Hardwick of San Diego Chargers
San Diego, CA 92108
619.641.3100 Antonio Gates and Nick Hardwick of San Diego Chargers
Are You Ready For Some San Diego Chargers? Antonio Gates and Nick Hardwick of San Diego Chargers