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
Date of birth: (1969-12-19) December 19, 1969 (age 51)
Place of birth: Victoria, Texas
Career information
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

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.

College career

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

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

He was the 150th overall selection by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1992 NFL Draft, but only joined the team in 1993, after the Olympics were over. In his football career, the majority of which he played for the Carolina Panthers, he had 9,110 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.

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

  • Most career kickoff return yards (5,987) [3]
  • Most career kickoff return touchdowns (5)[3]
  • Most career kickoff returns (233)[3]
  • Most kickoff return yards in a single season: 1,480 (1998)[3]
  • Most kickoff return touchdowns in a single season: 2 (1998) (tied with Steve Smith)[3]

Pro Bowl records

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


Sources and external links