By NFL standards, Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore is old. Running backs do not make it to the tender old age of 36 while still wearing a uniform and logging carries every week, but he has. Of course, when you play as long as he has, you are bound to accomplish a few things.
Against the New England Patriots Sunday afternoon, Gore accomplished something only three other running backs in NFL history have ever done—rush for over 15,000 total yards.
As if the milestone alone wasn’t enough, he got the final yards in style during a 41-yard second-quarter scamper:
The only other players to rush for more than 15,000 yards are Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726), and Barry Sanders (15,269). By entering into the company of three of the greatest running backs to ever play the game, the answer to the unavoidable question should seem clear.
Is he a Hall of Fame player?
Some would say yes and cite the NFL’s all-time career rushing list as the ironclad proof. The three guys in front of him are in, as are ten of the 12 guys that come after him. One of those two, Adrian Peterson, is an unquestioned first-ballot selection once he retires.
That question is best answered with another question—what’s he really done?
He has been the member of one Super Bowl team, which lost on football’s biggest stage. Gore has won the popularity contest that is the Pro Bowl five times. He was named a second-team All-Pro in 2006 when he rushed for 1,695 yards—and that’s it.
The only award he has won in the NFL was the 2016 Art Rooney Award for sportsmanship. Simply put—this guy hasn’t done much.
There are 32 running backs in the Hall of Fame. Many of them did a lot more in a shorter amount of time than he has played. So, a case could be made that his only significant accomplishment is his longevity. But getting paid is the reward for that, not a gold jacket.
But Frank Gore thinks his body of work will be enough to get him in, and he told HOF Productions as much in a 2017 interview via ProFootballHOF.com :
“I know I’ve done a lot in this league and I know if my opponents, the guys I had to face, had to vote me in I think they would.”
If he’s right, good for him. Hopefully, his speech will be more exciting than his career (and shorter).