After a huge win on Sunday that helped the Colts stay in the midst of the AFC South race, their attention turned to Frank Gore. In the locker room post-game, head coach Chuck Pagano awarded Gore a game ball, which the running back soon said should be shared with his offensive linemen and the two offensive line coaches.
That’s a nice gesture and all, but Gore has been producing long before he was playing behind this offensive line or for these coaches. In fact, Sunday’s game ball wasn’t even primarily for his performance in the game - though he averaged 5.4 yards per carry while rushing for 75 yards - but rather for his performance throughout his career.
On Sunday, Frank Gore passed Jim Brown on the NFL’s all-time rushing yards list.
That’s right, Jim Brown. The guy who many think is the greatest running back in NFL history, a guy who won three MVP awards, was an eight-time first-team All-Pro, was a nine-time Pro Bowler, and who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That Jim Brown.
It’s a heck of a career accomplishment for Gore, who’s had a lot of them recently. So far this year, Gore has passed Jim Brown, Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Marcus Allen, and Franco Harris on the NFL’s all-time rushing list. He’s just 372 yards from passing Tony Dorsett for eighth place, too.
“That’s awesome,” quarterback Andrew Luck said post-game of Gore passing Jim Brown. “Frank is the man. You won’t find a guy that loves football more than Frank Gore. He is a beautiful teammate. He’s a great football player. He’s a great locker room guy. You get so happy when he has success because he deserves it. He works so hard. To pass Jim Brown, that’s cool. My dad grew up in Cleveland so the running back that was always talked about in our household was Jim Brown, so congrats to Frank.”
“We gave Frank a game ball,” head coach Chuck Pagano told the media after the game. “He breaks the run at the very end to get us on a knee. Obviously all those things. He is a warrior. What he has just done, he passed if not the greatest, the greatest player ever to play that position in the National Football League in Jim Brown. Frank is a warrior, he is a grinder, a hard-worker, a great talent, but he is a great teammate. He loves this game, he loves this team and he puts them on his shoulder week in and week out. Obviously congrats to him.”
Gore took some time to reflect in a conversation with the MMQB’s Peter King, mentioning how after two torn ACLs in college people didn’t think he’d have a long NFL career (instead, he’s in his 12th season and hasn’t missed a game since 2011). He also took some time to address passing Jim Brown.
“When I passed Jim Brown, the guys were all like, ‘Congratulations, man!’” Gore told King. “I said, ‘Come on! Let’s play football! Let’s get this win!’ That’s the way I was raised. And it’s the way I’ll always play. After the game, they gave me the game ball, and Mr. [Jim] Irsay said to me, ‘I am so happy you’re a part of the horseshoe.’ All the guys, so good to me. Andrew Luck … Man, all the money in the world, and he’s all football. All football. I love that. I don’t think about how much longer I’ll play. I just play. The man up above will let me know when it’s time.”
Gore’s description of Luck as “all football” is also a fitting description of the running back. After all, he told the local media after the game that he simply wants to be remembered as a football player.
“I want to be remembered as a football player,” he said. “Running back is just a position. The reason why I say football player is because my coach Tom Rathman, when I was a younger player and he started coaching me I used to care about stats. He made me change my mind for the game and made me worry about being one of the best football players by doing everything. Being great in the locker room, working hard in practice, blocking, catching, being a good teammate. I tip my hat to coach Tom, I look at him like a father to me. He was one of the guys who really helped me to play the way I’m playing right now.”
Gore will certainly be remembered as a football player, and he’ll be remembered in connection to a very elite group of them as he climbs the all-time rushing list.