The shrinking group of fans and pundits who think that running back Frank Gore doesn’t deserve a spot in Canton suggest that Gore shouldn’t be rewarded with a bronze bust and a gold jacket for longevity and padded stats. To those folks we continue to say, “Have you lost your minds?”
The question came up today, directed to the #PFTPM podcast. The clip is attached; the written version of the argument appears below.
Gore’s longevity and stats are precisely the reason for his inevitable enshrinement. He has survived, and thrived, for 15 years at a position that chews up and spits out an assembly line of ballcarriers, with long-term durability almost an impossibility given the constant and repeated collisions in which these men are involved.
Every running back would love to play 15 years. Every running back would love to join the four-member 15,000-yard club. Every running back would love to have a chance to leapfrog Barry Sanders on the all-time list, which Gore likely will accomplish by Halloween.
But very, very, very, very few can do it because of the physical demands and health consequences of repeatedly running into a brick walls that in many occasions are also running into them.
Incredibly, Gore has become even more durable with age. He missed 12 games from 2005 through 2010. Since 2011, he has missed only two games.
Through it all, he has 3,443 rushing attempts, 15,021 rushing yards, a highly-respectable average of 4.4 yards per carry, and another 459 touches in the passing game. That’s more than 3,900 times in the regular season that Gore has had the ball in his hands and, necessarily, a bull’s-eye all over his body.
He’s got nine 1,000-yard seasons. He has a career-high season of 1,695 yards. And he has a plausible shot at catching Walter Payton for No. 2 on the all-time list.
Gore also played in a Super Bowl, rushing for 110 yards in a game the 49ers nearly won. Barry Sanders didn’t play in a Super Bowl. Curtis Martin didn’t play in a Super Bowl. LaDainian Tomlinson didn’t play in a Super Bowl. Adrian Peterson hasn’t played in a Super Bowl. Eric Dickerson didn’t play in a Super Bowl.
Gore has more career rushing yards from all of them. All of them are, or will be, in Canton. Even if Gore doesn’t take another snap, he’s a Hall of Famer, and he should make it on the first ballot.