Frank Gore, NFL's No. 3 rusher, unsure about playing future

DENNIS WASZAK Jr. (AP Pro Football Writer)
·4 min read

NEW YORK (AP) -- Frank Gore is in no rush to decide if he'll give it another run next season.

The New York Jets running back, who ranks third on the NFL's career rushing list with 16,000 yards, will be 38 in May and just completed his 16th season. He's scheduled to be a free agent this offseason.

''I'm going to get some down time with the fam and get to Miami and chill out with my kids,'' Gore said Tuesday. ''And then, I'll see what's up. I still have fun, man, playing the game of football. But I didn't make a decision yet.''

Gore knows whether he plays next season won't be entirely up to him. At his age, most NFL running backs have been long retired. He has played more games - 240 - than anyone at the position in league history. So, Gore knows teams likely won't be lining up to sign him, despite his Pro Football Hall of Fame-type resume.

''Basically, whoever wants me, and if I want to play with a team that really wants me,'' Gore said of what will factor into his decision. ''A team that's got a young guy who I can mentor, to help out to be a better pro. A team that has a chance to win. Things like that.''

Gore became the third player in NFL history to run for 16,000 yards, finishing at exactly that milestone number when he had 48 yards on 16 carries against Cleveland on Dec. 27. He suffered a bruised lung during the game, though, and missed the season finale at New England.

''I'm good,'' Gore said. ''I didn't even know I had it, really. When I came to the sideline, they were like, 'You're bleeding,' and I thought I was bleeding on my arms or something like that. I felt normal. I feel good. I'm OK.''

Gore signed a one-year deal worth $1.05 million with the Jets last May, largely because he liked Adam Gase after the two spent time together in previous stops in San Francisco and Miami. Gase, who was fired Sunday night after two seasons, took heavy criticism from fans and some media for giving Gore such a heavy workload over youngsters such as rookie La'Mical Perine, Ty Johnson and Josh Adams.

Gore led New York with 653 yards rushing and two touchdowns, but had a career-low 3.5 yards per carry. Gore also caught 16 passes for 89 yards, including a 6-yard reception on third down against the Los Angeles Rams that sealed the Jets' first victory of the season on Dec. 20.

Throughout the season, his teammates and coaches raved about Gore's work ethic and rookie-like enthusiasm - something the Jets believe will have long-lasting effects on them.

''Frank's been an inspiration to us all,'' quarterback Sam Darnold said. ''Our circumstances this year weren't great, losing as many games as we did, and he just came in here every single day and went to work. It was unbelievable to watch and I'm proud to call him a teammate and a friend.''

Gore was also impressed by the 23-year-old Darnold and believes he can still be a franchise-type quarterback.

''The type of year he was having, hurting his shoulder, he could've easily packed his bags and said, 'I'm done.' He didn't,'' Gore said. ''He wanted to play. He wanted to finish something he started.''

The running back thinks general manager Joe Douglas needs to surround Darnold with talent, the way Buffalo did with Josh Allen and Cleveland with Baker Mayfield - both from Darnold's draft class.

''I mean, he wasn't the third pick for nothing,'' Gore said of Darnold. ''He's very talented and tough and he loves the game, man.''

Same for Gore, who overcame two torn ACLs in college at Miami and spent his first 10 NFL seasons in San Francisco, then three in Indianapolis, followed by one-year stints in Miami and Buffalo before joining the Jets.

''My story, man, I'm not supposed to be here right now, you know what I'm saying?'' Gore said. ''I got drafted in the third round, had two ACLs, shoulders. They said I wouldn't be here right now.''

Gore then asked reporters what surprised them about him during his time with the Jets. One reporter pointed out how Gore often ran wind sprints on a side field during training camp while special teams practices were going on, and how unique that was for a veteran to want to get in extra work.

''When they signed me, let's be real - my age, you had some doubts in your head,'' Gore said with a smile. ''I would've had doubts. But, man, I'm not going to lie. I had a great time here. Even though we didn't win, these young guys worked their behinds off.''

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