Michael Bates (American football)

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Michael Bates
No. 81, 83, 82, 24, 20, 29
Position: Return specialist
Wide receiver
Special teamer
Personal information
Born: (1969-12-19) December 19, 1969 (age 48)
Victoria, Texas
Career information
High school: Tucson (AZ) Amphitheater
College: Arizona
NFL Draft: 1992 / Round: 6 / Pick: 150
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Return Touchdowns: 5
Kick Returns: 373
KR yards: 9,110
Player stats at NFL.com
Medal record
Men’s athletics
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Bronze medal – third place 1992 Barcelona 200 metres
Summer Universiade
Gold medal – first place 1991 Sheffield 100 metres

Michael Dion Bates (born December 19, 1969) is a former two-sport athlete who gained renown both as a sprinter who won an Olympic bronze medal in the 200-meter dash in 1992, and also as a five-time American football Pro Bowl standout kick returner in the National Football League.

Early career[edit]

A letterman in football and track at Amphitheater High School in Tucson, Arizona, Bates was the unanimous selection of the Long Beach Press-Telegram as the "Best in the West." He was rated by Parade as the second-best prospect in the country at running back behind Terry Kirby. His brother Mario played for the Arizona Cardinals and was a second-round draft choice of the New Orleans Saints in 1992 from Arizona State.[1] Another brother, Marion, played collegiately at Southern California and Arizona. During his pro day, fellow Arizona football player and QB Shane Nagore threw passes to Bates, sprinter James Bullock and Napoleon Kaufman to scouts from the Packers, Seahawks, Cowboys, Falcons, Raiders, Chiefs, Saints and Dolphins.

College career[edit]

He played college football and ran track for the University of Arizona. In track, he was voted the Pac-10's Outstanding Male Performer at the conference track championships in 1989 and 1990, winning the 100 and 200-meter dashes. He was also a member of the Wildcats 400-meter relay team that finished second in the 1989 NCAA Championships. His college-best time was 10.17 in the 100 meters.


At the June 1992 Olympic Trials he finished third, qualifying for the Olympics, edging Carl Lewis by one one-hundredth of a second for the final qualifying spot. In the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, his time of 20.38 from the inside lane, put him 0.37 seconds behind gold medal winner Michael Marsh and 0.25 seconds behind silver medalist Frankie Fredericks to win the bronze medal. He set his personal best time in the 200-meter dash was 20.01 seconds, set at the Weltklasse meet in Zurich 13 days after the Olympics.

Personal bests[edit]

Event Time (seconds) Venue Date
50 meters 5.75 Los Angeles, California February 15, 1992
100 meters 10.17 Sheffield, England July 21, 1991
200 meters 20.01 Zurich, Switzerland August 19, 1992

NFL career[edit]

At the 1992 NFL draft combine, Bates ran a 4.4 40, a full tenth of a second faster than top RB prospect Vaughn Dunbar and almost 2 tenths of a second than any of the other 34 halfbacks tested. Bates was the 150th overall selection by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1992 NFL Draft, but due to contract negotiations, he did not sign with Seattle and held out the 1992 season. In March 1993 Bates signed an incentive laden contract including a $15k workout bonus, $10k playoff percentage time bonus and over $50k in performance bonus. In 1995 Bates was an exclusive rights free agent where Seattle ended up agreeing to terms with him on a 1-year $700k deal in July after new head coach Dennis Erickson traded for Ricky Proehl and drafted Joey Galloway, Bates became expendable and was waived August 28. The Carolina Panthers claimed Bates off waivers only to turn around and trade him the next day to the Cleveland Browns for Travis Hill. Bates spent the end of the 95 season on the inactive list and was not retained. 1996 began his great run of seasons where he signed with the Carolina Panthers, he had 9,154 total yards in kick returns and five kick-return touchdowns (the NFL record for kickoff return touchdowns in a career is six). In one of his best seasons, 1996, he returned 33 kicks for 998 yards - a remarkable average of 30.2 yards per return - and one kick return touchdown. Bates was selected to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. After five seasons in Carolina, Bates was let go and the Redskins signed Bates to a 2-year $1.33million contract. Bates was let go after just one season and Carolina picked Bates back up for the 2002 season. His season was cut short that year however due to a broken ankle in the preseason. Bates was re-signed for the 2003 season with Carolina but was let go in the final cut down process for the regular season. After that Bates was signed by the Jets but once again injuries placed Bates on injured reserve in November 2003. Bates was subsequently waived by the Jets and was able to sign with the Cowboys in late December and play for the Cowboys in their playoff run.

He set a Seattle Seahawks team record in 1993 with 22 special teams tackles and was a Pro Bowl alternate to Steve Tasker.[2]

Panthers franchise records[edit]

As of 2017's NFL off-season, Michael Bates held at least 12 Panthers franchise records, including:[3]

  • Kick Returns: career (233), season (59 in 1998), game (9 on 1998-10-04 @ATL), playoff game (5 on 1997-01-05 DAL; with Rod Smart and Mark Jones)
  • Kick Return Yds: career (5,987), season (1,480 in 1998), playoff game (155 on 1997-01-05 DAL)
  • Yds per kick return: career (25.7), season (30.24 in 1996), playoff game (31 on 1997-01-05 DAL )
  • Kick Return TDs: career (5), season (2 in 1999; with Steve Smith Sr.)

Pro Bowl records[edit]

  • Most career kick returns (17)
  • Most career kick return yards (488)


  1. ^ Brothers in Pro Football Archived 2013-10-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Charlotte: Search Results". nl.newsbank.com. 
  3. ^ "Carolina Panthers Team Encyclopedia". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved June 16, 2012. 

Sources and external links[edit]