Frank Gore scored his first touchdown as a Jet in Sunday’s 34-28 loss to the Chargers at Sofi Stadium.
Could it end up being his last one in the NFL?
Gore, in a postgame Zoom interview, said he is contemplating the end of his Hall of Fame-caliber 16-year career.
"I don’t know if I’m going to play next year," said the third-leading rusher in NFL history.
"I don’t know. You just never know and I’ve got to be real with myself how teams think about my age. They might not want a 38-year-old running back on the team. It’s tough because I don’t know about next year."
Gore, who will turn 38 on May 14, was responding to a question about the Jets’ 0-10 record when — unprompted — he brought up his own career mortality.
Gore, who came into the league in 2005 with the 49ers, said: "When I was younger with San Fran, I always felt like, ‘I’ve got time. I’ve got time.’ "
He said being on a winless team at this stage of his career makes it even more difficult.
"I tell myself, we’re not winning, but I can at least show these kids — these young men — if I still go out there every day and work my behind off, they can do it, too," he said. "So I think that’s probably what God got me here for. To keep showing these young men the way to work and the way to be pros and hopefully we just get a win."
Gore carried 15 times for 61 yards against the Chargers and scored his 80th career rushing touchdown on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.
Signed as a backup to the since-released Le’Veon Bell, Gore leads the Jets with 447 rushing yards. His 15,794 career yards place him behind only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726).
Could this season be it?
"I’m just real with myself," Gore said. "When you’re up in age at the position we play, guys in the front office, some people don’t go by tape. They go, ‘OK, he’s going to be 38 in another year at the position, he’s going to lose something.’
"Every organization I’ve been in, they know the way I work. If they really know me, they’ll know I’ll be OK if I want to play because they know I’m going to give them my all . . . But sometimes it doesn’t work like that. And I know this. So I’ve got to keep it real with myself.
"If I’m here, I’m going to try my best to give these young men everything I’ve got just to get that first win. That’s on the practice field and that’s on Sundays. And that’s all I can do. I know they watch me and I can’t sell them short."
Gore said not ending his career on an 0-16 team is a motivation for him.
"We’re thinking about that every day," he said. "We’ve got to get one. You don’t want to go 0-16. Especially if this might be my last year. I can’t go out like that, you know?
"We’re just going to keep working as a team. Hopefully we can just try to get one. Can’t wait till we get it. I’ll be so happy. If it is my last year, I can’t say I’m going out 0-16."