Le’Veon Bell gets to the Jets' training facility more than two hours before practice is set to start, and he’s usually not the first running back there. Frank Gore is.
“I don’t know what time he gets here,” Bell said. “He’s already prepped. He’s already ready for practice. We got 2 ½ hours until practice.”
That gives you a little glimpse of why Gore is still playing. Players young and old marvel at Gore’s work ethic, professionalism and drive.
Gore is 37 years old, and preparing to begin his 16th NFL season. The Jets open up Sunday in Buffalo, where Gore played last year. This isn’t a ceremonial campaign for Gore. He doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon, and he’s expected to be a big part of the Jets’ offense.
“Blessed,” Gore said about starting another season. “Still doing something I love. I’m still having fun doing it. I’m happy, man. I’m still doing it. I’m doing whatever it takes to help my team be successful on Sunday whenever my number is called.”
Gore had multiple knee surgeries in college at Miami. Many doubted whether he would last more than a few years in the league. Gore proved those people wrong. He’s made five Pro Bowls, is the third-leading rusher in NFL history with 15,347 yards, and he’s still going strong.
During training camp, it was impressive the way Gore hit holes and ran through them — many times showing more burst than Bell, who is nine years younger.
When Gore was on the sideline, he’d jog up and down or in place to stay loose. Gore takes no short cuts. Everything he does is working for him — he's missed just two games in the last nine years.
“He looks the same as he did 12 years ago,” said Adam Gase, who was coaching in San Francisco when Gore was in his fourth season with 49ers. “I can’t explain it. It’s unbelievable how, when I watch him, I mean I flash back to 2008. He looks the same.
“I don’t know how. It doesn’t make sense. But Frank has been one that refuses to listen to what anybody else says, and he goes out there, he is an old-school football player. And he looks good, his burst looks good, his vision is never going to change. It’s going to be like that when he’s 60.”
Gase also coached Gore in Miami two years ago. He was second on the team in touches (168) and scrimmage yards (846) — and he missed two games.
Gore has become an inspiration to everyone within the Jets’ football department, if not the entire NFL.
Bell, a pretty established back himself and former Pro Bowl player, said he watches “every little thing” Gore does and picks things up from him. Bell wants to follow Gore’s path and prove he can still be productive and effective after he turns 30.
“I can’t really go into each and every detail what he does because I’ll be here all day,” Bell said. “Just know he does a lot for me. I don’t think he knows or realizes all the things he does.”
Gore has never been a vocal leader. He speaks when he needs to and is always willing to help. But he leads by his actions, and his speak louder than words.
“I know I’ve been blessed with the ability to play football at a high level and I take advantage of it,” Gore said. “The reason why I take advantage of it is it got taken away from me in college. I know this game is not promised to anybody.
“No matter how many Pro Bowls, how many thousand-yard [seasons], once I step on that field, I want to show I’m not satisfied. I’m going to go out there every day give it my all. I feel like since a lot of young guys seeing me at my age, practicing the way I practice, seeing me come out way before practice starts to get going, hopefully they can watch me and follow me.”