INDIANAPOLIS --- Knock on wood, but new Colts running back Frank Gore has been the picture of health at the position that takes the biggest beating. It's amazing, quite frankly, how healthy and productive he's been compared to other running backs his age.
Gore will turn 32-years-old in May. He hasn't missed a game since week 13 of the 2010 season, meaning he's played in every game for four consecutive seasons. That run started when Gore was 28-years-old and through the so-called milestone age of 30, when running back production is supposed to drop off a cliff.
Here are the running backs in the NFL that have played in every game over the past four seasons:
That's it (and Johnson is two years younger than Gore). I could only find two others that came close. Marshawn Lynch (age 29 season in 2015) and Jacquizz Rodgers (age 25 season in 2015) each only missed one game in the past four years.
"I live by this. I will never let a man tell me what I can't do because I turned a certain age. As long as I got passion and love for the game, I'm going to try and be the Frank Gore I've always been, and that's what I go by," Gore said on Wednesday.
ACTIVE VETERAN RBs
But what about his production, not just his health? He's posted back-to-back 1,100 yard seasons in his age 30 and 31 seasons and dominated other active running backs' production who have stayed in the league that long:
NFL Active Running Back Rushing Yardage in Age 30 & 31 Seasons
Frank Gore - 2234
Fred Jackson - 1371
Steven Jackson - 1250
De'Angelo Williams - 1062
Darren Sproles - 549
Ronnie Brown - 356
Leon Washington - 84
Overall, Gore is 2nd in active rushing yardage behind only Steven Jackson and could pass him in 2015, after Jackson was released by the Falcons. Both are entering their age 32 seasons, but Jackson missed 5 games after turning 30. Gore didn't.
ALL-TIME GREAT RBs
How does Gore stack up with retired running backs and their production in age 30 & 31 seasons? Gore is currently 20th all-time in rushing yardage. Let's take a look where he compares to others above him on that list:
Rushing Yardage of the Top 20 All-Time Leading Rushers in Their Age 30 & 31 Seasons
Walter Payton - 3235
Curtis Martin - 3005
Emmitt Smith - 2600
Tony Dorsett - 2510
Corey Dillon - 2368 (but only 733 in age 31 season)
Fred Taylor - 2348
Frank Gore - 2234
John Riggins - 1867 (age 30 & 32 seasons, sat out age 31 w/ contract dispute)
Franco Harris - 1776
Thurman Thomas - 1676
LaDainian Tomlinson - 1644
Marshall Faulk - 1592
Jerome Bettis - 1477
Steven Jackson - 1250 (again, still active right now)
Eric Dickerson - 1213
O.J. Simpson - 1150
Marcus Allen - 969
Edgerrin James - 639
(note: Barry Sanders and Jim Brown retired before age 31 seasons)
So even compared to the 19 other running backs who have more rushing yardage all-time than Gore, what he's done the past two seasons since turning 30 has been better than most of the greatest running backs of all-time. Frank Gore's production has been flat out historic the past two seasons.
LAST 10 YEARS
Even in the past 10 years since Gore started his NFL career, there have only been four running backs who rushed for more yardage in their age 31 season than Gore's 1106 yards in 2014:
Tiki Barber - 1662 (2006)
Thomas Jones - 1402 (2009)
Fred Taylor - 1202 (2007)
Warrick Dunn - 1140 (2006)
Still think age 32 is the magic number when Gore will break down? Well, Fred Jackson was 32 when he racked up 1277 total yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013, and Ricky Williams was 32 when he amassed 1385 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns in 2009.
Frank Gore is the picture of health and production, despite being two years removed from the "dreaded" age of 30, and if you are predicting this is the year he breaks down, then you really aren't doing much more than shaking a magic 8 ball to come to that conclusion.
#23 in Indianapolis is as reliable as they come in the backfield.