These days, NFL running backs are, to some extent, viewed as expendable. Teams no longer build their offense around one, bruising ball-carrier; it’s simply easier to build a talented unit and plug a new running back in as necessary. Frank Gore, however, is a survivor from a bygone era.
Now in his 16th NFL season, the veteran running back is still going strong; he signed a one-year contract with the New York Jets in May, and, with Le’Veon Bell injured, he should see plenty of work. Despite those current commitments, though, Frank Gore recently revealed his plans for leaving pro football behind.
Frank Gore’s impressive NFL career
At this point in his career, Frank Gore simply seems like part of the NFL landscape; it’s impossible to imagine a time when he wasn’t hitting the gridiron each Sunday. That perception, though, shouldn’t overshadow his impressive career.
Gore played his college ball at Miami, where he burst onto the scene as a true freshman. While his time on campus wasn’t always easy—he suffered multiple ACL injuries, missing most of two seasons—he still piled up 1,975 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 28 NCAA appearances.
The running back then entered into the 2005 NFL draft and joined the San Francisco 49ers as a second-round pick. While Gore didn’t make much of an impact during his rookie campaign, that wasn’t a sign of things to come. Once the 2006 season rolled around, the sophomore seized the starting job; he promptly broke off a 1,695-yard year.
In total, Frank Gore spent 10 seasons in the Bay Area, piling up just over 11,000 rushing yards and 64 touchdowns. He then headed to Indianapolis, spending three campaigns with the Colts, before joining the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills on two-straight one-year contracts.
In May 2020, Gore signed another one-year deal, this time with the New York Jets. Even at age 37, the running back has no intention of leaving pro football behind.
The running back has specific plans to retire as a San Francisco 49er
At this point, it’s not clear when Frank Gore plans to retire. Whenever that moment comes, though, he has one specific plan: to ride off into the sunset as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
According to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports, Gore and Niners CEO Jed York have already discussed a return to San Francisco. Even if it’s only on a ceremonial one-day contract, the veteran running back wants to end his career where it began.
“I got to. That’s the team that gave me the opportunity to do something I always wanted to do when I was a kid, play NFL ball,” Gore explained. “I was there for 10 great years. Been on bad teams and been on great teams. I love it out there.”
Frank Gore has more than earned the right to retire however he wants
Under ordinary circumstances, fans and pundits might not look too kindly on a player discussing his retirement plans during the season. Frank Gore, however, has earned the right to retire however he wants.
While you could call Gore a compiler—it’s easy to pile up rushing yards if you play for more than a decade—that shouldn’t devalue the running back’s accomplishments. He’s been remarkably durable, never appearing in fewer than 11 games per season for the entirety of his career, and currently sits third on the NFL’s all-time rushing list. Even if he’s accumulated his stats over a longer time period, 15,371 is impressive, no matter how you achieve it.
On Sunday, Frank Gore will face the San Francisco 49ers as a member of the New York Jets. When it comes time to retire, though, he’ll pull on that red jersey one final time.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference