Frank Gore Seeking to Do What Few Running Backs Have Done Before
Entering his 12th NFL season, Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore is attempting to do what very few running backs have done before him including no one in recent memory.
Having fell just short at 967 rushing yards last season, Gore is attempting to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark at the age of 33 years old, a dinosaur for today’s running back position where players typically only have an average shelf-life of 2.57 seasons.
If Gore can defy father time, he’d be the only running back to break the 1,000 yard barrier at the age of 33 years old or older since Washington Redskins running back John Riggins accomplished the feat in 1984 per the Indy Star’s Stephen Holder:
"“No running back has eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season at 33 or older since Redskins great John Riggins in 1984 (Riggins was 35),” writes Holder. “Gore, playing for a team beset by quarterback injuries and an underperforming offensive line, fell 33 yards short with 967 yards in 2015 at 32-years old.”"
However, it’s worth noting that one modern day running back (specifically since 1990), Emmitt Smith, came awfully close with 975 rushing yards at 33 years old with the Dallas Cowboys in 2002 and then again at 35 years old with 937 rushing yards as a member of the Arizona Cardinals in 2004.
Despite failing to rush for 1,000 yards for the first time since 2010, as well as a career low yards per carry average of 3.7 yards, Gore listens to the naysayers, but is only looking to prove them wrong:
"“Believe me, I listen,” said Gore per the Indy Star’s Stephen Holder. “When I hear it, that’s when I attack my training. When I’m tired, I tell myself what the people are saying about me. In that second workout when I’m saying, ‘Man, I don’t want to do this.’ I remind myself, ‘They’re saying you’re old. They’re saying you’re 33. They’re saying you can’t do it this year.’ I play games with myself off that stuff.”"
It’s what drives Gore and keeps him working hard in what sounds like a very regimented and grueling offseason workout routine:
"“I try to do two workouts three times a week,” added Gore. “(In the second workouts), I do more agility, jump cuts, moves, working my feet in small spaces. Just trying to imitate like when I’m in the hole.”"
Something that his Colts teammates already attest to:
"“It’s how he’s lasted this long,” said 2nd-year Colts wide receiver Phillip Dorsett last season on Gore’s rigorous offseason workouts. “He always tests me. We compete at everything. He calls out the young guys (in workouts).”"
While the Colts rushing attack struggled last season, it wasn’t through the fault of Gore, who ran hard and with clear purpose–but the open running lanes were simply too few and far between.
At age 33 years old, Gore will not give you much big play ability or long runs anymore at this late stage of his career–which was never a staple of his game to begin with, but he’s still a solid running back who will hit the hole hard and grind out tough yards, even if he’s not spectacular.
He simply wasn’t the problem with the Colts rushing attack last season, as the offensive line just couldn’t open up enough holes on a consistent basis.
With the additions of 1st round center Ryan Kelly, offensive line coach Joe Philbin, as well as some other promising young players, the Colts offensive line figures to be significantly improved from last season which bodes well for Gore breaking the 1,000 yard barrier with Indianapolis.
Something that has been an insurmountable feat for the Colts running game in recent seasons, as the Colts once again kept two of their least impressive franchise streaks going this past season.
One, by once again failing to have a 1,000 yard rusher on the season since Joseph Addai did it way back in 2007. Two, by also failing to have a 100 yard rusher in a game, which Vick Ballard was the last to accomplish in Week 15 of the 2012 season.
Therefore, Gore will be fighting to not only defy father time, but also the franchise’s recent woeful rushing history.
For the NFL’s 15th all-time leading rusher with 12,040 career rushing yards, who was initially told he was “too slow”, only to later overcome two significant knee surgeries–not to mention a severe learning disability, overcoming the odds is nothing new.
He’s done it before. He’ll do it again.