Thursday, February 9, 2023 the NFL will hand out the AP Comeback Player of the Year Award.
While the odds on favorites: Geno Smith, Christian McCaffrey, and Saquan Barkley are certainly worthy candidates for NFL comeback player of the year. It would be admirable to see another current New York Giant on that odds on favorites list.
From Undrafted to Team Captain
Nick Gates landed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He started 35 games in college playing for Nebraska. Gates has been a utility player. He has started and played at each offensive line position over the course of his NFL career.
Gates started all 16 games in 2020. He earned the starting center job and the role of team captain in 2021.
All in all, Gates has never been called an elite offensive lineman but he has only allowed 2 sacks in his career. Plus he has the ability to attribute quality starts along the interior of the offensive line. There is great value in a reliable utility offensive lineman.
“I broke my leg. It snapped in half. But I’ll be good.” – Nick Gates
The feel good story of the undrafted swiss army knife of offensive lineman would come to a screeching halt during week 2 of the 2021 NFL season.
Gates, playing left guard at the time would get tangled up with a Washington Commanders defensive lineman. The ensuing injury would result in a broken tibia and fibula, seven surgeries, a frightening setback in Spring of 2022 and 400 plus days of recovery.
There were early talks of amputation and questions whether Gates would ever or should ever play in the NFL again.
Move forward to October 26th 2022. The improbable return of Nick Gates to the New York Giants active roster happened. He was initially slated to play the role of backup left and right guard. However Gates once again found himself in the starting lineup, starting 8 of the Giants last 9 games. Gates was also in the starting lineup for the playoffs.
With nearly 400 snaps under his belt since his return, Gates hasn’t changed. He still may not be considered elite. However he did not let a 400 plus day recovery of a gruesome, career threatening injury hasn’t stop him. Gates has a bright future in football wherever he ends up next season. My hope is that he is still a new York Giant. Because Nick Gates has the Heart of a Giant.