"It symbolizes the historic moments here," Gates said about the jerseys, which San Diego will wear for the first time this year Monday night against Indianapolis. "That's the first thing that comes to mind for me. And it's a sweet color, man. The color to me is amazing. So when you wear it, you represent the organization at the present time. But you also know that you're playing for guys that have been here and paved the way for guys like myself and the future.
"So that's why it means so much when you put them on. It's that throwback uniform, but it's more than that. It's that guy who paid the price in this uniform. It's a big deal. It's closer to a homecoming [game]."
According to team records, the Chargers' powder blue jerseys first reappeared in 1994 during the league's 75th anniversary season. Since, the Chargers have worn slightly differing versions of the alternate jersey 48 times, posting a 28-20 record.
Gates said quarterback Philip Rivers has talked to the rest of the team about what it means to wear the old-school uniforms.
"Now, it's about fashion," Gates said. "Guys will say, 'That color is sweet. That's for me.' Yeah, it's fashion. But just know the guys that came through here and grinded -- Charlie Joiner, Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow Sr. -- for them, wearing the powder blue was a big deal. So when you put them on, you're wearing something. You're wearing the Charger bolt."
Middle linebacker Donald Butler understands what the powder blue jerseys mean to the franchise. But as Gates said, Butler is one of the younger players who like to rock the retro look.
"I love it," Butler said. "Those are the best jerseys in the NFL, hands down. No question. I'm looking good out there -- looking good, feeling good, playing good."
One thing the Chargers will be looking for is redemption. San Diego is 21-19 overall on Monday night. However, the Chargers have lost their last two games against Houston and Denver during the prime-time contest in nightmarish fashion, giving up big leads in both.
Gates said his team has to put those disappointing setbacks in the rear-view mirror and focus on the present.
"This league is about how fast you can overcome whatever you're dealing with," Gates said. "You've got to play 16 games, and you could be 2-3 and win 11 in a row. You can. You can be 5-0 and lose 11 in a row. It's a long season.
"You play it by quarters. The first quarter we were 2-2. The second quarter we've started off 0-1, so now we need to get going. Whatever you do, you have to understand that the next game has to get played. So we can sit here and pout about the Raiders game, but I bet you that ball will get kicked off on Monday night. And who cares what you did last week, because whoever is watching the game wants to see what you're about now. And that's the true test -- can you respond, keep going and keep doing things?"
Added defensive end Corey Liuget: "We put all of those games behind us, and just focused on trying to beat the Colts -- that's it. That's all we can do as team. And as a defense, that's the mindset we've got to have."