Colts’ Frank Gore? Call him ‘man possessed’
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The long, grueling workouts during the offseason under a searing South Florida sun helped Frank Gore do what few running backs his ilk have done before.
That would be embrace 36 rushing attempts in the Indianapolis Colts’ 13-7 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday in arctic-like Orchard Park, N.Y. It was the most carries in Gore’s 193-game career, the most by a running back 34 or older in NFL history, and tied for the third-most in Colts history, regardless of age.
And it would be piling up 130 yards while plowing through accumulating snow. He became the fifth back in league history to rush for at least that much after turning 34, the first since Baltimore’s Earnest Byner. In 1996.
“A man possessed. That’s what we’re calling him,’’ Chuck Pagano said.
“You don’t think about it,’’ he said. “Your number gets called and you do what you do. You try to go out there and get the job done.’’
This undoubtedly is the most exasperating of Gore’s 13 seasons. After virtually each of the 10 losses, he’s one of the last players still sitting in front of his cubicle in the locker room, either with his uniform pants on or with one towel wrapped around his waist and another draped over his shoulders.
No one likes to lose. Gore absolutely detests it.
Yet he carries on, literally. Often, he asks a passing reporter how he looked in the game.
I still got it, right? You see that, right?
It’s important for Gore to do his job and hope those around him do theirs.
And that’s why he’ll do whatever possible on this quick turnaround to be ready for another heavy-carry game if needed when the Colts meet the Denver Broncos and their No. 1-ranked defense Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
There will be more massages, more sessions in the cold tub. He’s tapered his weekly routine to allow his legs time to recover after running for three hours in snow, which wasn’t too dissimilar to running on a sandy beach. Or quicksand.
“It was different,’’ Gore said of snowy New Era Field. “You can’t really explode or anything, so you had to really feel your way through things, work your way as you go to build up speed.’’
The environment Thursday night will be much more conducive to conventional football and actually playing the position.
“I’m happy to be home,’’ Gore said. “Hopefully the roof’s closed and we can go out there and have fun.’’
From a team standpoint, all that remains is closing the books on an exasperating season that has seen the Colts blow four double-digit second-half leads and go 3-5 in one-possession games. Inevitably, they’ve found a way to lose.
Individually, players – young and old – must prove they deserve to be part of the franchise’s future. No one should be surprised if general manager Chris Ballard oversees another offseason of massive change.
Gore? He’s still doing his best to run over Father Time. Every game. Every carry.
“I think I’m showing people that if you love what you do, it shouldn’t matter what age (you are),’’ he said. “As long as you train and love to compete, you can do whatever you want.
“I still have three more games, so I still want to finish strong and try to get an opportunity to reach the 1,000-yard mark.’’
With 762 yards, he needs to average 80 over the final three games to hit 1,000 for a second straight season and the 10th time in his career. The only players in NFL with at least 10: Emmitt Smith, Curtis Martin, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders.
“That would be real big because once you turn 28 as a back, they think you’re getting old,’’ Gore said with a wry smile. “I’ve been told since I was 28 what I can’t do or will I fall off this year, fall off that year.
“I’m out there and I’m still going and still having fun and showing people on film that I can play this game.’’
Again, credit those Spartan workouts in Miami. Veteran safety Darius Butler has shared offseason work with Gore, which reinforces his appreciation.
“I’ve seen Frank before I came into the league, just how he works and having a chance to work with him in the offseason,’’ he said. “You see his work ethic, so nothing he does surprises me at this point.
“I see him work, I see him grind, I see him outwork most of the young guys and talk trash while he’s doing it. My hat’s off to him.’’
Gore, who’ll be a free agent at the end of the season, insisted he still wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing between September and January if not for what he does during the summer.
“No. I wouldn’t be playing right now,’’ he said. “I’d be done if I don’t train the way I train in the offseason.
“I feel good.’’
And if the Colts ask for another 30-plus carry outing from their 34-year old running back Thursday?
“Whatever,’’ Gore said.