With future uncertain, Jets’ Frank Gore doesn’t want to end his career with a winless season

Frank Gore has encountered almost every possible scenario over the course of his long NFL career. He’s gone to a Super Bowl and finished last in a division while suiting up for five different teams.

But it took 16 seasons to encounter something like he has with the Jets.

The team fell to 0-10 with a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, officially making the Jets the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention this season. That was a foregone conclusion, and now the possibility of a winless season is firmly on the table for Gore and the Jets.

No player wants to endure 16 games of hell without sniffing a single victory. But for the Gore, the timeless 37-year-old running back, the future is very much up in the air, and he doesn’t want a winless season to be his final memory of the NFL.

“I’d say it’s tough, because of the stage of my career. When I was younger in (San Fransisco), I always felt like, ‘I got time, I got time.’ And now, I don’t know if I’m going to play next year,” Gore said. “But you just never know. And I’ve got to be real with myself. You know how teams think about my age, and they might not want a 38-year-old running back on the team. But it’s tough because I don’t know about next year.”

To be clear, Gore didn’t say he intends to retire after this season. If he makes that decision, it will come in the offseason. But the realist in Gore knows that decision could be made for him, just based on how teams view veteran running backs.

Gore scored his first touchdown of the season on Sunday, and while the Jets have firmly committed to getting younger players more time on the field, the veteran running back still has a consistent role each week.

The motivation for Gore to keep giving it his all is simple. He wants to show everyone he’s still capable of playing at the NFL level, and he desires to get the Jets at least one victory.

“When you’re up at (my) age with the position I play, guys in the front office, some people don’t go by tape,” Gore said. “They go by, ‘OK, he’s going to be 38 at that position, he’s going to lose something.’ And I think every organization I’ve been in, they know the way I work. If they really know me, they’ll know I’ll be OK if I want to play. Because they know I’m going to give it my all in the offseason to get ready, to help whatever organization that wants me to be on their team. But sometimes it don’t work like that, and I know this.

“So I’ve got to keep it real with myself. But while I’m here, I’m going to try my best to get these young men everything I’ve got, just to get the first win, on the practice field

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‘I can’t go out like that,’ Jets’ Frank Gore says of potentially ending career with 0-16 season

Time is running out on a win for the Jets — and also for Frank Gore’s NFL career.

At 0-10, the Jets became the first team in the NFL to be eliminated from postseason contention in 2020, thus ending any kind of last-ditch miracle run to the playoffs and that elusive first Super Bowl in more than 50 years.

Gore realizes that time isn’t on his side when it comes to a win in 2020, and also his NFL career — and he said as much on Sunday night.

“You don’t want to go 0-16, especially if this is my last year,” Gore said Sunday after the Jets’ 34-28 loss to the Chargers. “I can’t go out like that. Hopefully, we can get one. And I can’t wait until we get it. I’ll be so happy. If it is my last year, I can’t say I’m going out 0-16.”

MORE: Updated 2021 NFL Draft order

Really, it’s no surprise that Gore is thinking about hanging up the cleats: He has far outlived his NFL shelf life as a running back, finding the fountain of youth as a 37-year-old in the backfield while reuiniting with Adam Gase this season. It was a late signing, too, and Gore somehow beat out both Le’Veon Bell (well, he’s gone now) and fourth-round pick La’Mical Perine to remain the No. 1 back on the team.

Gore has been OK, but not exactly deserving of that first-string label: Through 10 games, Gore has 447 yards rushing (3.6 yards per carry) and a touchdown. If his rate stats hold, he’ll surpass his 2019 total of 599 yards on the ground.

The Jets’ remaining schedule isn’t friendly, either, if Gore is thinking about a W: New York plays the Dolphins, Raiders, Seahawks, Rams, Browns and Patriots, with New England the only sub-.500 team left on the docket. 

So if Gore doesn’t want to “go out” like this, then his only option might be to come back for another season.

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Jets running back Frank Gore, 37, contemplating end of his career

Frank Gore scored his first touchdown as a Jet in Sunday’s 34-28 loss to the Chargers at Sofi Stadium.

Could it end up being his last one in the NFL?

Gore, in a postgame Zoom interview, said he is contemplating the end of his Hall of Fame-caliber 16-year career.

“I don’t know if I’m going to play next year,” said the third-leading rusher in NFL history.

“I don’t know. You just never know and I’ve got to be real with myself how teams think about my age. They might not want a 38-year-old running back on the team. It’s tough because I don’t know about next year.”

Gore, who will turn 38 on May 14, was responding to a question about the Jets’ 0-10 record when — unprompted — he brought up his own career mortality.

Gore, who came into the league in 2005 with the 49ers, said: “When I was younger with San Fran, I always felt like, ‘I’ve got time. I’ve got time.’ ”

He said being on a winless team at this stage of his career makes it even more difficult.

“I tell myself, we’re not winning, but I can at least show these kids — these young men — if I still go out there every day and work my behind off, they can do it, too,” he said. “So I think that’s probably what God got me here for. To keep showing these young men the way to work and the way to be pros and hopefully we just get a win.”

Gore carried 15 times for 61 yards against the Chargers and scored his 80th career rushing touchdown on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.

Signed as a backup to the since-released Le’Veon Bell, Gore leads the Jets with 447 rushing yards. His 15,794 career yards place him behind only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726).

Could this season be it?

“I’m just real with myself,” Gore said. “When you’re up in age at the position we play, guys in the front office, some people don’t go by tape. They go, ‘OK, he’s going to be 38 in another year at the position, he’s going to lose something.’

“Every organization I’ve been in, they know the way I work. If they really know me, they’ll know I’ll be OK if I want to play because they know I’m going to give them my all . . . But sometimes it doesn’t work like that. And I know this. So I’ve got to keep it real with myself.

“If I’m here, I’m going to try my best to give these young men everything I’ve got just to get that first win. That’s on the practice field and that’s on Sundays. And that’s all I can do. I know they watch me and I can’t sell them short.”

Gore said not ending his career on an 0-16 team is

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