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Antonio Gates, Rodney Harrison named finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024

Former Chargers right end Antonio Gates is primed to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame in just his first year of eligibility.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday evening, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced their 15 finalists for the class of 2024. In all, three former Chargers were among them, headlined by former tight end Antonio Gates and safety Rodney Harrison. Gates is in his first year of eligibility while Harrison is in his 10th year of eligibility following his retirement in 2009. Former edge rusher Dwight Freeney, who played for the Chargers from 2013-2014, is the third finalist to don the Bolt in their career.

We all know the story of Gates and his unusual path to NFL greatness. The former Kent State basketball standout was signed by the Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2003 despite not playing a down of football in college. By the 2004 season, Gates had turned into the touchdown machine we all came to know as he totaled 13 scores and 964 receiving yards in just his second season of professional football.

When it was all said and done, Gates retired from the NFL after the 2018 season with 116 touchdowns, the most by a tight end in NFL history. His 11,841 receiving yards and 955 receptions also rank first in team annals.

Gates was honored earlier this season at halftime of the team's first game against the Broncos where he was inducted into the team's ring of honor.

Harrison played nine seasons for the Chargers after being a fifth-round draft pick out of Western Illinois in 1994. He was a do-it-all safety that was named to two Pro Bowls while in San Diego before moving on to the Patriots from 2003-2008. He won two Super Bowls in New England and was named a Second-Team All-Pro during the 2004 season. He ended his career with 1,206 tackles, 34 interceptions, 30.5 sacks, and four defensive touchdowns.

During Freeney's time with the Chargers, he recorded four sacks and three tackles for loss over 20 games played in San Diego. During his 11 years with the Colts, he was named an All-Pro four times, including back-to-back first-team accolades in 2004 and 2005.