Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers believes Antonio Gates when he says that his four-game suspension was the result of accidentally taking a banned substance.
Rivers says that although he can’t be positive that Gates wouldn’t cheat by taking performance-enhancing drugs, he thinks he knows Gates well enough to know that’s not the kind of person Gates is.
“Can I 100 percent say that? I don’t know that I can, but 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? I feel like he would say that to me. So that’s why I say I know, and that’s the only reason I say it. Could I be wrong? I guess. But I don’t think so. I don’t think so. The trust and relationship and the friendship that we’ve built over 12 years, he’d have no reason to tell me anything but the truth,” Rivers said on The Mighty 1090 AM.
Rivers said Gates told him before the suspension was announced on Thursday. Rivers said he and the Chargers will have a tough time with the loss of their longtime starting tight end.
“I knew it was coming, I had talked to him beforehand. It’s really tough,” Rivers said. “Any time you lose one of the top tight ends to ever play, and one of our best players, for four games, it’s certainly going to have an effect.”
Rivers said he hopes Gates’s reputation isn’t tarnished.
“As a friend you just hate it for him. I feel for him as a friend. I really do,” Rivers said. “You hate it for him because of what perception and what thoughts people are going to have that you can’t really change their minds on. And me, knowing him, the kind of guy he is, I know it was without knowing that he was doing that. He’s first class in every way. So it’s tough knowing that he’s going to have that tied to him in some way and some people will always think something about it.”
Whether or not Gates’s reputation around the NFL has taken a hit, it’s clear that Rivers remains a big believer in his longtime tight end.