It feels like Frank Gore has been in the NFL forever, doesn’t it? It’s hard to remember a time that the bowling ball from the University of Miami wasn’t punishing defenders on a Sunday afternoon. He’s been consistently great since he was drafted in 2005, so has he earned a place in Canton, Ohio? Is Frank Gore a future Hall of Famer?
Frank Gore and the Pro Football Hall of Fame
He hasn’t missed a game since 2011, and even in his 30’s, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. In fact, he was the first rusher over the age of 32 to have 1,000 yards rushing since John Riggins in 1984. When you realize that he did so behind a questionable Indianapolis Colts offensive line, it becomes even more impressive. Frank Gore has been consistently impressive throughout his entire career, so has he earned a place in the Hall of Fame?
The Case Against Him
As great as Frank Gore has been, he’s never been the best. He started his career as LaDainian Tomlinson was hitting his stride, and then he had to watch Adrian Peterson emerge as the best back in football. At best, Gore was only ever second-best. And while his numbers were always good, they were never really great.
He only rushed for more than 1,200 yards three times in his career. For perspective, Terrell Davis really only had four real seasons in the NFL, and he broke 1,500 in three of them. And even when you add in the evolution of the passing game, Peterson and Tomlinson still broke 1,200 yards seven times. Frank Gore seemed to just break 1,000 yards most years.
His rushing touchdown totals are underwhelming as well. He only broke double digit touchdowns once in 12 years. Davis had three, Peterson had eight, and Tomlinson had nine. Gore only averages about six touchdowns a season. An average season for Gore is about 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. That’s a good season, but is it Hall of Fame worthy?
The Case For Him
Even if Frank Gore never took another snap in the NFL, it’s not like his stats are unimpressive. He’s always been good. Some backs have high highs and low lows, but Gore has always been reliable. He averaged over 1,000 yards a season, and aside from his rookie year, he only fell short of 1,000 yards twice. Adrian Peterson has come up short of 1,000 times just as many as Gore has throughout his career. The Case For Him
And it’s not like he’s been surrounded by superstars. In his ten seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, he only experienced three winning seasons, and in both seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, they’ve struggled. But despite how bad his teams have been, Gore has always been great. Many backs have buckled under bad teams, but not Gore.
If Frank Gore never takes another snap in the NFL, he’ll have rushed for a total of 13,065 yards and 74 rushing touchdowns. Throw in another 3,427 receiving yards and 16 touchdown catches, and Gore’s career totals are pretty impressive. Currently he’s eighth all-time in rushing yards, and if he had one more 1,000 yard season, he’d slide into the top five. And if he duplicated his 2016 season, he would only trail Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, and Emmitt Smith.
Speaking of Smith, his carry numbers are ridiculous. He ran the ball 4,409 times in his career, which is over 500 more than the next player on the list. If Gore maintained his pace, and had as many carries as Smith, he’d be the all-time leading rusher with 19,419 yards. For whatever that’s worth.
Outside of Smith, Gore’s numbers stack up well against other Hall of Fame rushers. He has more yards with fewer carries than the likes of Marcus Allen and Tony Dorsett, both of whom are in the Hall. Gore also has more rushing yards than Marshall Faulk, Jim Brown, and Thurman Thomas.
Frank Gore currently trails Hall of Fame rusher Curtis Martin by 1,036 yards. When you consider that Gore has run the ball 553 times less than Martin did, it becomes clear that Gore belongs. If Gore maintained his pace over those carries, he would shoot past Barry Sanders into third all time.
That’s without mentioning someone like Terrell Davis, that just got into the Hall of Fame with 7,600 yards. It’s true that Davis had to retire young, and he was an incredible player while he could play, but that shouldn’t hurt Gore’s chances. If anything, Frank Gore should be rewarded for remaining consistent and healthy as long as he has been.
The Last Word
Does Frank Gore belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Absolutely. His season-by-season numbers don’t exactly leap off the page, but that shouldn’t be held against him. Some would argue that it’s probably more impressive to be consistently good for 12 years than to be great for three or four. In any event, when Frank Gore finally hangs up the visor and cleats, there should be a cozy spot waiting for him in Canton, Ohio.