Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 11, 2024

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Former NFL tight end Antonio Gates was not elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot, a pretty shocking snub given his legendary career.

He’ll ultimately get in, but he told USA Today’s Josh Peter on Friday that he couldn’t help but be disappointed.

“I think the disheartening part of when you don’t make it is is that you made it so close,” he said. “It’s like getting to the championship and losing. … But how you handle it moving forward is the most important thing.”

He added that he felt like he “let the people who went through the journey with me down. You know, like your family. The people who understands what’s beneath the surface, all the work you put in, the coaching staffs, the players who played with you. They’re like, ‘What?’ So I think that’s one of those things where you think, man, in due time we’ll get there, man.”

Shawne Merriman @shawnemerriman

Antonio Gates not being a first ballot is an absolute embarrassment, they should be ashamed.

Gregg Rosenthal @greggrosenthal

It is a fantastic class. But Gates’ peak was more dominant than literally anyone in this awesome class.

Daniel Jeremiah @MoveTheSticks

Wait, Antonio Gates didn’t get in? Huh?

There’s zero question he’ll eventually be inducted into the Hall of Fame despite the initial snub. Gates was an eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro selection in his NFL career (2003-08) and ranks third all-time among tight ends in receptions (955), third in receiving yards (11,841) and first in touchdowns (116).

He helped usher in the age of the explosive, play-making tight end that culminated in players like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce, and anything less than an induction next year would be an incredible disservice. This year’s group was an incredibly strong class, but Gates deserved to be in it.

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