The unstoppable Frank Gore

The unstoppable Frank Gore
Reading Time: 4 minutes.

Running back Frank Gore grew up idolising the Lions Hall of Famer Barry Sanders. In Gore’s 15th season, he currently sits at 15,185 yards. He is only 84 yards away from beating his childhood hero’s all-time rushing record of 15,269 yards. Only legends Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith sit in front of him. For 36 year old Gore, his career is a story of passion and durability, with very little signs of slowing. 

The beginnings 

During his high school career, The Miami Herald crowned Gore the fourth top prospect in the state, and the fifth prospect nationally. He’s broken county single-season records, including rushing yards (2,997) and touchdowns (39). This grading gave him the freedom to whichever sports college he wanted to.

Yet, his heart lay close to home, choosing the college that allowed him to be near friends and family. His mother had been battling with kidney disease and had just began dialysis treatment. Being there for her was as important as football. His home connection didn’t just stop with his family. Gore’s love of football began on the streets of Coconut Grove, Miami. Each street in his neighbourhood had their own team, and he learnt to rush against boys much older than him. His closest friend, Johnny Ford always had his back. It’s easy to see why he didn’t want to stray too far. 

University of Miami 

The University of Miami was a perfect home for the valuable talent. As a true freshman for the Miami Hurricanes in 2001, Gore totalled 562 yards with five touchdowns on 62 carries, for a 9.1 yard average. Gore still holds the third-best season total in Hurricanes history by a freshman, and was named the Sporting News Big East Freshman of the Year.

Hot off his freshman year, Gore suffered a torn ACL in his left knee before the spring practise in 2002. ACL tears take 8 to 10 months to recover from, and this left him in recovery for the entire season. With NFL scouts watching, and injury propensity an important criteria, this could have seriously damaged his professional chances. 

However, Gore bounced back and lead the team in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He ended his 28 games with the Hurricanes with seventeen touchdowns over 1,975 yards. Beyond the field, he showed mental strength and grit far beyond his age on returning from an ACL tear. This was not unnoticed by those watching him closely in the NFL. 

NFL career 

Gore was selected in the third round with the 65th overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. No one was anticipating the Miami back would be with the team for ten productive years. Gore proved himself a worthy starter in this rookie season, starting only one game but racking up 608 yards for 3 touchdowns. San Francisco knew they’d stumbled on someone special. 

Throughout his Cali career, Gore made the Pro Bowl five times. His 5’9 frame and stocky build averaged an impressive 4.5 yards per attempt, 64 touchdowns and over 11,000 rushing yards. He only missed 14 games throughout his tenure. Beyond the numbers, his jersey was a best seller for the team over 8 years. 

His career post-San Francisco has been varied, but still full of Gore passion. In the three years that followed his departure, he spent his time in Indianapolis in a Chuck Pagano offense. While the team itself was finding its feet with injury prone quarterback Andrew Luck, Gore led the offense in all purpose yardage. He provided the Colts with a stability he was so well known for. 

What makes his achievements so special is that he has been part of unremarkable offenses. Gore has reached the playoffs only three times, all during the 49ers’ three-year run. This ended with the Super Bowl loss to Baltimore in the 2012 season. Going into the Jay Cutler led Miami Dolphins last season was not going to give him the offense he needed to really thrive. 

What’s his secret? 

Gore is known for putting himself through a grueling workout regimen. Gore competes hard against everyone in every drill and at least holds his own, even against players much faster or younger than him. Typically, by the end, he’s outlasts everyone. He tends to seek out the younger players to keep him competing in line with the best. 

Gore chalks his longevity up to one single reason: his love of football. He took pride in knowing how difficult it was to bring him down in his street games as a kid. Even now, Bills coach Sean McDermott told The Ringer, “Last night I was standing near him and I could hear him going over play calls to himself, just spitting the play calls out.” The NFL is full of football obsessives, but Gore’s obsessiveness is on another level. 

Yet, it’s hard not to look to some kind of higher power to understand why Gore has been able to do what he does. Someone has certainly been looking out for him over a career which stands above and beyond what we expect from a running back. 

The future

Time doesn’t seem to affect Gore in the way it affects others. Watching him as a Bill coming close to Sanders’ record in his 15th season, you’d think he were 10 years younger. In his first 8 games in the Josh Allen led Buffalo offense, Gore has two touchdowns over 427 yards. He has shared the load with rookie back Devin Singletary, demonstrating what it means to be a depenable player in the league. 

Gore’s career is unique insofar as very few people have been able to achieve what he has achieved for so long. While some naysayers like to question his Hall of Fame worthiness, Gore’s sheer longevity in a physically demanding league deserves to be celebrated. 

Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas couldn’t think of a better way of expressing his respect than by saying: “Frank freaking Gore.” And he isn’t even done yet. 

Matt Detrich/The Star

One thought on “The unstoppable Frank Gore

  1. SF didn’t ‘stumble upon’ Frank. He was a well calculated risk and still rates as scot mccloughan’s favourite ever pick. He was an absolute hero for the niners in times when the team sucked big time so all the more credit to him for having such a great career – respect!

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