Buffalo Bills player Frank Gore may not be a big NFL star, but he’s had an impressive career. This year, he hit a historic mark that few other running backs have achieved. Due to the nature of the game, however, Gore may be the last back to do so. What is it, and why won’t any other rushers achieve it?
Frank Gore’s career achievements
The University of Miami product has been in the NFL since 2005. At 36 years old, Gore is old in football years and an antique compared to other running backs. Here are some of his accomplishments during his illustrious career:
- 215 games played
- 15,081 rushing yards
- 79 touchdowns
- Five-time Pro Bowl selection
- 4.4 yards per attempt
- Nine seasons totaling over 1,000 yards rushing
- 461 receptions for 3,833 yards
- 18 receiving touchdowns
Despite Gore’s advanced age, he’s still going strong for Buffalo with 333 rushing yards this season. He also celebrated one historic milestone he can cross off his list of achievements.
Gore’s recent milestone
In week four of the 2019 NFL season, Frank Gore passed the 15,000-yard mark for his career. He reached this milestone through a combination of skill and luck. For most of his long NFL career, Gore has been fortunate enough to stay healthy. Here are the other running backs to hit the 15,000-yard mark:
Emmitt Smith: 18,355 yards
Part of Dallas’s famed “Triplets,” Emmitt Smith was the primary focus of the Cowboys’ offensive attack. He finished his career with a short stint in Arizona. Smith wasn’t quite as quick as the other backs on this list, but he wore down opposing defenses with a bruising, consistent style.
Walter Payton: 16,726 yards
“Sweetness” was the NFL’s top rusher until Smith surpassed him. He was one of the best offensive weapons of all time, starring for the Chicago Bears in the ’80s. He helped lead the ’85 Bears to a 15-1 record and a rout of the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Barry Sanders: 15,269 yards
One of the most elusive runners of all time, Barry Sanders retired early. In actuality, he could have easily gone on to achieved the career record for rushing yards. That’s it — only four running backs have surpassed the total all time. Based on current NFL trends, it’s likely no one else will ever again.
Why Frank Gore will be the last running back to hit 15,000 yards
Gore’s historic achievement is a testament to his effectiveness and longevity. It’s also a stark reminder that the NFL is unlikely to see a rusher like him in the near future. The chances of another running back eclipsing 15,000 yards for their career are slim. Here’s why:
Running backs have short careers
Running backs have the shortest average career of any NFL position at 2.57 years. Few will play past the age of 30, which gives them a much smaller chance of approaching 10,000 yards, much less 15,000.
More teams are passing than ever
For better or worse, the NFL has become a passing league. There are few “run-first” teams, and the teams that do favor the run do so out of necessity rather than preference. Take the Baltimore Ravens, for example. While quarterback Lamar Jackson runs the ball quite well and quite often, he’s professed that he’d prefer to pass.
Running back committees are commonplace
Because running backs are hurt so easily, few teams rely on one running back. Most have at least two who get significant carries. The days of one back shouldering most of a team’s load are long gone.