Chargers tight end Antonio Gates returned to the practice field at Chargers Park on Wednesday. There were hugs and laughs and jokes as he got back in to the rhythm of life in the NFL.
But there was also something else. Something bubbling under the surface as Gates addressed the media for the first time since his four-game PED suspension ended:
Antonio Gates is mad.
I know, he's such an even-keel, likable guy it's hard to imagine him being really upset. He'd never say it outright but he had an edge about him that is not seen very often.
Gates talked about how he kept himself in shape during the suspension (a lot of running) and whether or not he watched the Chargers games on TV (he did but not with the sound up).
He also said he felt like he had to "re-establish" himself. It sounded like the way an undrafted rookie from Kent St. in 2003 would have referred to himself. So I asked him if he has that old motivation back, that desire to re-claim his place among the greats of the game and prove any doubters wrong. Boy, is he ever:
By the way, that former Broncos tight end he was referring to is Shannon Sharpe, who said Gates cheated the game and now his entire career has to be questioned. Don't think that's not driving Gates, too.