Miami Dolphins

An appreciation of Frank Gore, who is quietly having an all-time great season

Dolphins running back Frank Gore passes Barry Sanders in scrimmage yards

Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore talks to the media after their 13-6 win over the New York Jets in a NFL football game at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, November 4 2018, in Miami Gardens.
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Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore talks to the media after their 13-6 win over the New York Jets in a NFL football game at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, November 4 2018, in Miami Gardens.

It’s time to stop asking why Frank Gore gets more carries than Kenyan Drake.

It’s time to start asking if Gore will ever retire.

Because he has quietly put together a 2018 season for the ages.

Gore through 10 weeks ranks 16th league-wide with 528 rushing yards and 20th among qualifying backs with 4.5 yards per carry.

Those numbers would be good at age 25.

At age 35, they are nearly unheard of.

According to ProFootballReference, Gore’s rushing total is the seventh-most in NFL history by a player 35 or older.

The only players he trails: Emmitt Smith, John Riggins, Marcus Allen and John Henry Johnson.

And he has six more games to continue climbing the list.

What’s more, his rushing average, 4.51 yards per carry, is the best in NFL history by a player of his age or older, with a minimum of 60 carries.

“It’s kind of sick to think about this, but we were together 10 years ago and he just looks the same to me,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said last week. “Just the way he works, during a game, just everything he does, it just doesn’t look any different to me. I know when you’re 35 years old, it should look different, but he’s a freak of nature. His work ethic is off the charts. We’re going into our 10th straight week during the season and this guy is practicing in pads and finishing plays 50 yards down the field. He’s an unbelievable player and person to be around.”

Good luck finding a coach who says anything different about Gore.

Jim Harbaugh coached Gore for four years in San Francisco.

Harbaugh, now at the University of Michigan, this week called Gore his “favorite player I have ever coached. .... Just incredible.”

Gore was a topic of conversation in Ann Arbor because he had just broken another NFL record.

He surpassed 500 yards for the season with a first-half run against the Packers Sunday. That gave him a remarkable 14 consecutive seasons with 500 or more rushing yards, breaking an NFL record he had tied with Smith and Walter Payton.

This has been a season of milestones for Gore. In Week 2, he moved into fourth place on the league’s all-time rushing list, passing Curtis Martin. And two weeks ago, he passed Barry Sanders for sixth on the league’s career yards-from-scrimmage list. Up next: LaDainian Tomlinson, whom Gore trails by just 150 yards.

Gore has 14,554 career rushing yards, and needs 715 more to move into third place (a spot currently occupied by Sanders). Absent an absurd finish, Gore would probably need to play in 2019 to get there.

But based on how he looked against the Packers, why wouldn’t he keep playing?

Gore was ridiculous on Sunday, totaling 90 yards on 13 carries; 71 of those yards came after contact. He refused to be tackled on a 39-yard carry in the first quarter, bouncing off tacklers and darting through openings.

“That is just playing football,” Gore said. “The line did a great job.”

Pro Football Focus gave Gore the Dolphins’ highest graded among offensive players for the third straight week. His seven forced missed tackles led all running backs in Week 10.

One more things about Gore: He plays the game the right away.

He is the Dolphins’ 2018 nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which as the name suggests goes to the player “who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.”

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