Spring Premier Auction 2019

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Antonio Gates' path to greatness could not be a more unlikely story. He did not even play football in college. Instead, he starred on the basketball court at Kent State, leading the 10th-seeded Golden Knights to an incredible Elite Eight "Cindarella" run in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. At 6' 4" and 250 lbs. he was considered a "tweener" by NBA scouts, so he instead opted to try out for the NFL. The San Diego Chargers took one look at him at a private workout in 2003 and signed him immediately. 16 seasons later, Gates stands as the franchise's all-time leader in receptions (955), touchdown catches (116), and receiving yards (11,841). No tight end in NFL history has more TD grabs. When he finally decides to hang 'em up, Gates won't have to wait longer than the minimum five years before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Featured here is Antonio's game used helmet from the 2008 season. The Chargers won the AFC West division and kncoked off Peyton Manning's Colts in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers. Gates wore this helmet the entire season, including both playoff games. The consignor is one of the most passionate and knowledgeable San Diego Chargers collectors in the hobby. He has included an 8x10 photo from the season that clearly matches the shell and mask of this offered specimen. Additional digital images are also posted to verify the photo-match. One important thing to note is that the chinstrap now present is the same one added after the regular season and used for the two playoff games. Gates was apparently using a different chinstrap with this helmet in the regular season.

The white shell, speckled with a ton of scratches and contact marks, has the Bolts logo decal on each side with a Riddell sticker over the forehead. The rear has Gates' No. "85" decals with the NFL shield sticker, the black "GU 63" memorial decal (in honor of longtime NFLPA head Gene Upshaw who passed Aug. '08), the USA flag and warning label. A "CHARGERS" labeled neck pad is present along with both ear pads and all internal cushioning. The blue facemask is the same one Gates used all season long, marked and nicked on the bars from severe game contact. The white chinstrap, as noted earlier, shows significant wear as well. A "Recertified 2008" sticker is affixed on the interior as is the Riddell size "Large" sticker.

This is the first legitimate Antonio Gates game helmet we've ever come across as well as the only gamer offered publicly to our knowledge. Rare and one-of-a-kind do not do it justice.

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