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 and on Sundays. That’s all I can do. And I know they’re watching me. I can’t sell them short.”
The Jets have six games remaining in 2020, and after rookie La’Mical Perine suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, Gore should continue to get work out of the Jets’ backfield.
Regardless of how much he touches the ball or how much he’s on the field, Gore intends to do everything in his power to help prevent his potential final season from being a painful memory.
“I’ve been in this league 16 years, and I can’t sell these guys short,” Gore said. “I’m going to give them my all on the practice field, and also in the game. Whenever my number gets called, I try my best, let them know I’m here, and I’m here to try to get a win with them.”
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