Chargers tight end Antonio Gates claims he never “knowingly ingested” the banned substance that led to his four-game suspension for PEDs and he blames a supplement with an incomplete list of ingredients for the drug test results.
Many NFL figures including his quarterback Philip Rivers are accepting that explanation but Hall-of-Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe was much less forgiving when appearing on Sirius-XM NFL Radio with Bob Papa and Vic Carucci.
Sharpe believes Gates “cheated the game”. “It calls into question everything that he’s ever accomplished,” Sharpe said. “If he does it at the beginning of his career because he was an undrafted free agent, people are gonna say he did it to get in the league. Now he did it Year 13, Year 14 — People are going to say he did it to remain in the league. It does, it makes you question everything someone has ever accomplished.”
It is unclear how Gates’ suspension for using PEDs will affect his inevitable Hall-of-Fame candidacy. A look at his numbers and longetivity would seem to make him a slam-dunk choice, probably even a first-ballot selection, but the NFL has not had to face the issue of PED use with a candidate of Gates’ stature before.
Compare this with baseball, which has chosen to keep known PED users like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens out of their Hall despite stellar numbers. If enough HOF voters share Sharpe’s harsh evaluation, Gates may be waiting a lot longer than anyone expected to get a bust enshrined in Canton.