Saints TE Graham says his NFL career stemmed from Brees' early success with Chargers' Gates

Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham wonders if he would even be in the NFL if not for the success Drew Brees had with Antonio Gates in San Diego more than a half decade ago.

Graham, who played only one season of college football at Miami after four years of basketball, says he knows Gates paved the way for him.

Brees says Gates was "an experiment" when he joined the Chargers in 2003 after playing basketball at Kent State.

Now Gates is San Diego's all-time receptions leader and has been to eight straight Pro Bowls.

Graham, a third-round pick in 2010, made 99 catches for 1,310 yards and 11 TDs last season.

On Sunday night, they'll both be in the Superdome when the Saints (0-4) host the Chargers (3-1).