Shannon Sharpe doubles down on criticism of Chargers' Antonio Gates

SAN DIEGO -- Former NFL player Shannon Sharpe responded on Friday to comments made earlier this week by San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates that the Hall of Fame tight end tried to tarnish his image.

Sharpe said in July that Gates' positive test "calls into question everything he accomplished" and the he "cheated the game."

Gates returned this week from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Gates would not say what he tested positive for, other than the substance caused elevated testosterone levels that led to a positive test.

However, he addressed Sharpe’s comments calling his character into question on Wednesday.

"We played against each other, so it wasn’t like he was a teammate of mine or we were the best of friends," Gates said. "But we do know each other, and it was always competitive in terms of who was the better tight end, I do know that.

"And we joked about it. We laughed about it. So I guess if he can find a way to tarnish something, I think he probably would."

It didn’t take long for Sharpe to respond.

"If Antonio Gates believes in his heart of hearts that I care whether or not he breaks the records that I once had, that Tony [Gonzalez] now has, [or] he ends his career with more catches, more yards, more touchdowns, more rings, if he honestly believes that, I feel bad for him," Sharpe said. "You see, I didn’t tarnish his name. I didn’t put the stain on his resume. He did that."

"Antonio Gates, your anger, your frustration is pointed in the wrong direction," Sharpe went on. "When you walk by the mirror, take a peek to your right or your left. That’s the guy you should be upset with, not me. We played the same position. We played it at a very high level. But you tried to take a shortcut somewhere along the way and I never did. And that’s not my fault, that’s yours."

Sharpe made his comments while hosting a SiriusXM NFL Radio show on Friday. You can listen to Sharpe’s comments here.

With 10,014 receiving yards, Gates needs 47 more to move past Sharpe into third in NFL history for tight ends. He needs 28 catches to move past Sharpe (815) into third all-time among tight ends.

But Gates said those numbers don’t matter to him.

"I’ve never cared about what someone else has accomplished," Gates said. "I always go out and I just play."