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Age-defying Gore still running, excited to help Jets win
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
NEW YORK (AP) Frank Gore just keeps running - defying logic and Father Time with each hard-fought yard.
At 37 years old, the star running back is considered ancient in football terms, playing a position at which most guys his age and with his workload would have been long retired.
But Gore is preparing for his 16th NFL season, this one with the New York Jets. He's No. 3 on the league's career rushing list with 15,347 yards, behind only Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. And, he doesn't believe he's anywhere near finished.
"I really don't think about age," Gore said during a Zoom call Thursday. "It's the way I train. I love to stay around younger guys at the position, just to look at myself, to be honest with myself."
Gore has made a career of being a smart, tough runner whose workout regimen impresses all who have coached or played with him. During his 10 years in San Francisco, three in Indianapolis and then one-year stints in Miami and Buffalo, Gore has challenged himself to stay at a high level. And he has been productive at every stop.
With the Jets, he'll likely be behind Le'Veon Bell in a backfield that will also include rookie La'Mical Perine. For a bell-cow back who has led his team in carries every season, that lessened workload will be a bit of a change.
"I'm cool," Gore insisted. "I'm happy to even be playing this game at my age. I'm happy that this organization gave me an opportunity. But I'm just going to come in here, come work and help all the young guys and show those young guys I still can play."
Gore signed a one-year deal worth $1.05 million with the Jets two weeks ago, reuniting with coach Adam Gase - something the running back said was a major factor in him coming to New York. The two first worked together when Gase was an offensive assistant with the 49ers in 2008. They developed a bond and Gase told Gore if he ever got a head coaching job, he'd love for Gore to play for him.
In 2018, Gase made it happen with the Dolphins. Two years later, they are back together.
"I was 35 and once you touch that 30-mark, guys don't really want to give you an opportunity, give you a chance," Gore said. "He stuck by his word and brought me to Miami. We won some games. ... He's very smart, he's real, and he's a man of his word."
The opportunity to play with quarterback Sam Darnold - "I'm very excited" - on a team with a defense that includes safety Jamal Adams - "I think he's a top safety in this league. I love the way he comes to play every down, every game" - also played roles in Gore choosing the Jets.
Gore has yet to speak with Bell since signing with New York, but insists the two will be fine working in the same backfield. They have known each other for several years, and train in the same area in Florida. Gore also sought out Bell last season after the regular-season finale to get his jersey to frame for his wall.
"I respect his game and I respect the way he prepares himself to get ready for the season," Gore said. "I've been around a bunch of talented running backs my whole career, even in college, the NFL. I'm going to do whatever it takes to help him, help the other guys and also help the team be successful on Sundays."
Gore is on his third AFC East team in as many seasons; New England's the only squad for which he hasn't played. The Patriots have won 11 straight division titles, but many think that streak could end without Tom Brady at quarterback.
Count Gore among them.
"Brady's gone, and it's wide open," he said.
Despite losing playing time last season in Buffalo to rookie Devin Singletary and posting career lows in yards rushing with 599 and yards per carry (3.6), retirement was never part of Gore's plans.
"Because when I was playing the first six or seven games, I was balling," Gore said. "Once Buffalo started playing a younger guy, I felt like I still could do it. I just had to see what team would give me an opportunity."
Gore also got all the reassurance he needed from his oldest son Frank Jr., also a running back who's entering his freshman year at Southern Miss.
"He said, `I think you could go one more,'" Gore Sr. recalled. "So, I said, all right, I'm going to go."
Just as he has always done.
"On the practice field, I'm going to go out there and practice like it's my last," Gore said. "Young guys seeing me pulling it hard every day, it's just going to help our team get even better. So, I'm very excited, I'm a New York Jet and I can't wait to get into the building to see what we can do.'
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Updated May 21, 2020