Frank Gore may be 37 years old and nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career, but the Jets' new running back feels he’s got plenty left.
“I really don’t think about age,” Gore said during a Zoom call on Thursday. “It’s the way I train. I love to stay around younger guys at the position just to look at myself, to be honest with myself. When we’re doing agilities, if I’m about the same speed as them I know I’m going to be fine for the season.”
The Jets signed Gore to a one-year deal, knowing his work ethic, preparation and love of the game could rub off on the entire locker room and have a positive effect on a franchise that hasn’t made the postseason since the 2010 season.
Gore – the third-leading rusher in NFL history with 15,347 yards – said he chose the Jets because he wanted to reunite with Adam Gase, but he also wanted to play with Sam Darnold, Le’Veon Bell and Jamal Adams. Gore believes Darnold is a good, young quarterback on the rise, and respects how Bell prepares and how aggressive and “old-school” Adams is. Gore also had high praise for Gase, who first coached him as a 49ers offensive assistant in 2008.
“When he was with me in San Fran, we hit it off,” Gore said. “He always told me if I ever get a head job he’s going to want me to play for his team, man. I was 35. When you touch that 30 mark, guys don’t really want to give you an opportunity, give you a chance. He stuck by his word, brought me to Miami. I helped him win some games. Adam’s very smart. When everybody’s on the same page we can make something happen. That’s what I like about Adam, very smart, he’s real. He’s a man of his word.”
Gore will be backing up Bell and mentoring rookie La’Mical Perine. But Gase said he thinks a Bell-Gore tandem could “do some damage together.”
The Jets are getting a durable and reliable back in Gore, who has played 16 games in nine of 15 seasons, including eight of the last nine.
Gore ran for 599 yards and two touchdowns on 166 carries for Buffalo last year. He started six straight games for the Bills early last season, and rushed for 402 yards on 84 carries (4.79 per). The Bills then rode rookie Devin Singletary. But Gore said he never mulled retirement during this offseason because of that stretch and the influence of his son.
“I didn’t because when I was playing, like the first six, seven games I was balling. I was balling,” Gore said. “Once Buffalo started playing the younger guy, I felt like I still could do it. I had to see what team would give me the opportunity. I also asked my son what he thinks I should do, my older son. He was like, ‘Daddy I think you can go one more.’ I said OK, I’m going to go.”
Gore’s son, Frank Gore Jr., is going into his freshman season at Southern Mississippi. The two have been training together, sometimes getting up at 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning to work out. That’s also keeping Gore young.
Frank Gore Sr. is looking forward to when he can get on the field with his new Jets teammates and start showing them how much he has left. He thinks the Jets have an opportunity to win the “wide-open” AFC East now that “[Tom] Brady is gone.” Gore thinks he will have a definite impact on the Jets.
“I know if the young guys see me going hard every day that’s just going to help our team get better,” Gore said. “I’m very excited. I’m a New York Jet. I can’t want to get in the building and see what we can do.
“I think once I get out there and they see the way I work at my age, it’s going to help this team a lot.”
NFL's Top 10 all-time leading rushers (active players boldfaced):
1. Emmitt Smith 18,355
2. Walter Payton 16,726
3. Frank Gore 15,347
4. Barry Sanders 15,269
5. Adrian Peterson 14,216
6. Curtis Martin 14,101
7. LaDainian Tomlinson 13,684
8. Jerome Bettis 13,662
9. Eric Dickerson 13,259
10. Tony Dorsett 12,739