INDIANAPOLIS — At 34 years old, Frank Gore is 10 years older than the average age of the three other running backs on the Indianapolis Colts' roster.
And yet, there he is, day after day, down after down, still running hard, still breaking tackles, still taking on massive pass rushers — and still moving up the NFL's all-time rushing list.
In an era in which most running backs decide to hang them up in their late-20s — or, at the latest, in their early-30s — Gore heads into his 13th NFL season in 2017, now into his mid-30s, once again lined up week after week as the Colts' featured back.
Having accomplished just about — just about — everything he can in this league, why keep going?
"I don't think about it. I'm not thinking about it at all," Gore said when asked if he could imagine not returning to the league next year. "I take it one day at a time, one year at a time. If I still love it and my body is feeling good and I feel like I can do it, why not do it?"
Top of mind for Gore, who has been described by just about everybody that crosses his path as the ultimate "team" guy, remains that ever-elusive Super Bowl ring. He got oh-so-close in 2012, when his San Francisco 49ers fell to the Baltimore Ravens, 34-31, in a Super Bowl XLVII matchup most famously known for its 34-minute blackout early in the third quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
In that title game, Gore did every he could to try to help will the 49ers back from a 28-6 third quarter deficit, running the ball 19 times for 110 yards and a six-yard touchdown run that brought San Francisco to within eight points, 28-20, with 4:59 left in that same quarter.
The next season, Gore and the 49ers got as far as the NFC Championship Game, only to fall to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, 23-17.
Asked if his accomplishments as an individual player ever motivated him at this point of his career, Gore said, "If we are winning and we are going to the playoffs, I'm fine with that."
"I'm not here just to play about numbers," he continued. "I think about getting to the playoffs or going to the championship and getting a Super Bowl ring – I'll be satisfied with that."
Climbing the charts
It is hard to completely ignore Gore's place among the greatest running backs in NFL history, however.
In 2016 alone, he passed the likes of Thurman Thomas, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen, Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk, Jim Brown and Tony Dorsett to move into eighth-place on the league's all-time rushing list (13,065 yards).
Frank Gore in action during the 2015 season.
With another solid effort this season — remember, last year Gore became the first running back age 33 or older to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Pro Foootball Hall of Famer John Riggins in 1984 — he could easily find himself in the Top 5 all-time in rushing.
And, with another 1,000-yard season, Gore would find himself knocking on the door of No. 4 all-time rusher Curtis Martin, who racked up 14,101 rushing yards.
While Gore has never liked to discuss his individual accomplishments, others jump at the opportunity just to try to explain what this Miami, Fla., native means to them and the team.
"You can't have enough of them," said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, when asked about the impact a player like Gore has on the younger players on the roster. "Those guys tell the young guys, 'Hey, get in this guy's hip pocket.' Obviously, he's figured it out. He figured it out early in his career and he knows about routine. He knows about process: how to meet, how to take care of your body, how to practice, proper sleep, nutrition and all that stuff. Gravitate towards those guys."
"Everybody knows Frank," Colts rookie running back Marlon Mack said of Gore in May. "Frank is a Hall of Famer; a future Hall of Famer. He's a great worker. I can't wait to learn from him and do what he does. Running backs don't last 13 years in the league any more so I am trying to do whatever Frank did."
So what is it, exactly, that Gore does? What do the Colts — who continue to get younger, bigger and faster — see in their 34-year-old workhorse back?
"They know I'm a good football player. They know I play the game hard. They know I love it," he said. "And they know that when I'm around the guys, I bring the team up, and I'm happy to be here."
And when each game day comes: "I'll show them that I'm still a young guy," Gore continued. "I'm going to go out and be the same Frank Gore I've been."