The NFL handed down four suspensions last week, including one for San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. Gates received a big four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy by testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
Quarterback Philip Rivers was informed of the news well ahead of the public, so he has had some extra time to take in the report. Rivers came to the conclusion that Gates didn’t intentionally break any rules (via Darren Smith of Mighty 1090 AM):
“I feel like our relationship is such that if it was intentional, he would say, ‘I messed up. I’ve been doing this, I made a mistake, I just couldn’t do it anymore the way I was doing it.’ You know what I mean?”
Rivers further added:
“Could I be wrong? I guess. But I don’t think so.”
Gates has been a consistent role model in the NFL since 2003, showing himself to be among the most-respected tight ends in the business. In a statement released after the suspension, he claimed he didn’t know the supplements he was taking were on the banned list. It is easy to believe him considering his exemplary NFL standing.
For Rivers to go on record and defend Gates, it carries a lot of weight. It’s also something that a lot of other teammates would not do under different circumstances.
Rivers and Gates have been playing together since 2006 when Rivers took over the starting role in San Diego. They’ve had amazing chemistry on the field along with a close friendship off the field. Gates absence during the Chargers’ first four games could be somewhat detrimental for the offense.
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