There were at least three main reasons why quarterback Phillip Rivers elected to sign with the Indianapolis Colts.
The 38-year old signed a one-year deal with the Colts and he said his relationship with his former coaches played a big role.
Head coach Frank Reich, offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, and tight ends coach Jason Michael all have experience coaching Rivers in the past.
It turns out that the three coaches nearly lured another former Chargers legend over to Indy too.
“Very Close” To Signing
Tight end Antonio Gates did not play a down last season, but he told Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star that he was “very close” to signing with the Colts.
Gates said he received a “handful” of calls, but the familiarity with the Colts’ coaches made them his top choice if he were to sign.
“I was in the same boat Philip is in now,” Gates said. “You understand the people you’re going to work with. They don’t have to worry about me as a human being. They know me. And they know, ‘OK, this is his ritual and how he gets prepared and gets ready.’ Sometimes as a veteran, you need that. That helps you. . . . It was just so familiar. Even the players had, like, similarities if that makes sense. It’s just crazy how everything works. It did look familiar and when they called plays, it just fit what we had done over the course of a decade in California.”
Don’t Expect A Comeback
Just because Rivers is leading the charge in Indy, do not expect a comeback from Gates.
Gates officially retired from football in January as the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions by a tight end (116).
Antonio Gates has officially retired
— ⚡️ChargersLegion⚡️ (@ChargersLegion) January 14, 2020
He will stay retired as well, citing that he doesn’t “feel like I can give that effort right now.”
The Colts need a tight end to replace Eric Ebron, who departed for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Gates laughed out the notion that the replacement will be him.
“No, no, no,” Gates laughed, via Ayello. “Last year, I was fresh out. I was hesitant about coming back, but I always wanted to keep open the opportunity of winning a championship. I really, truly feel like the Colts have that opportunity now with Philip. But for me, I can’t be who I was, from a mental standpoint. That’s why I retired. What I would have to go through mentally and the things I’d do to prepare, I just don’t feel like I can give that effort right now. I wouldn’t want to do that to anybody.”
What really sticks out is that Gates was really aware of what was going to work for him.
When talking to Ayello, Gates mentioned that he could have gone to the New England Patriots.
However, he cited that he had never played for Bill Belichick and that he doesn’t understand how he goes about his business.
He knew the relationships he established with the Chargers staff worked, and that is also why Rivers went to the Colts.
Gates turns 40 in June, so his best years are behind him, but it still makes for a good story.