Antonio Gates suspended four games for violation of PED policy

Antonio Gates Admits Something You Don't Normally Hear from NFL Stars

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended by the National Football League for four games after he violated the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Gates, 35, is entering his 13th year in the league and has never been suspended before. However, the eight-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro will now miss the first quarter of what could be his last season. Gates is a free-agent after this year and has expressed interest in a reduced role to keep him fresh.

For his part, Gates says he never knowingly took anything illegal, per his Twitter account:

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails. I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn't reflect them. As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines.

I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I'd like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

Gates certainly isn't the all-world player he used to be, but losing him is still a crushing blow to the Chargers. Losing him in the red zone is perhaps the biggest problem, after he caught 12 touchdowns in 2014, the highest total of his career since 2004. Without Gates, San Diego will be relying even more on rookie running back Melvin Gordon along with third-year receiver Keenan Allen.

In his career, Gates has 788 receptions, 10,014 and 99 touchdowns.

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