ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Frank Gore isn’t scared of anything. Not the next hit he’ll take. Not how many yards he’ll gain. And especially not questions about his age.
Whatever fears the 36-year-old Buffalo Bills running back once had evaporated during his college days at Miami where his pro football career was in jeopardy of being over before it even began.
Gore tore ligaments in both knees over a two-year span.
“Fear? As long as I’m healthy I’m good,” Gore said.
“Just knowing it could be taken away from me, that’s why I try to go hard every time,” he added. “What I’ve been through, I know it’s not guaranteed. So why not? I feel if God blessed me to do this, why not go have fun? Why not go 110 (percent)?”
And don’t ever suggest luck has had anything to do with it.
“I’ve been through a lot. To get here wasn’t easy for me. I’ve been through ups and downs. I had to learn how to walk again, run, get my mind strong,” Gore said. “I can’t say luck. I’m blessed. It’s the man above.”
Though Gore is known for putting himself through a grueling offseason workout regimen, someone has certainly been looking out for him over a career which stands as a model of consistency and durability.
And he’s showing no signs of dipping five games into his 15th season, and first with the Bills.
Since the San Francisco 49ers selected him in the third round of the 2005 draft, Gore has missed just 14 games because of injury — and only two since 2011.
In the meantime, Gore has eclipsed his contemporaries — including college teammates Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee, as well as former Bills teammate LeSean McCoy — to enter an elite echelon.
Two weeks ago, he became the fourth player to surpass 15,000 yards rushing with a 109-yard performance in a 16-10 loss to New England.
When Buffalo (4-1) returns from its bye week off to host Miami on Oct. 20, Gore will be 79 yards away from becoming the ninth player to reach 19,000 all-purpose yards.
Age hasn’t been an issue. According to Pro Football Reference, Gore’s 6,242 yards rushing after turning 30 lead all players.
Gore has finished each of his 14 seasons leading his teams in yards rushing, including a three-year stint in Indianapolis and last season in Miami. And he’s currently leading Buffalo with 333 yards rushing on 75 carries.
The numbers are so mind-boggling, Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas couldn’t think of a better way of expressing his respect than by saying: “Frank freaking Gore.”
“That’s crazy, crazy numbers,” said the former Bills star. “I don’t think he gets the respect that he deserves throughout the National Football League. People need to take notice and really understand his career and understand that this guy has been a great player throughout.”