INDIANAPOLIS --- Frank Gore has 599 rushing yards through 9 games, on pace for 1,065 yards on the ground in his age 32 season. That's remarkable for two reasons.
First, here is the list of NFL running backs all-time that have rushed for 1,000 yards at age 32 or older:
Ricky Williams (MIA, 2009, age 32) - 1,121 yards
Emmitt Smith (DAL, 2001, age 32) - 1,021 yards
Mike Anderson (DEN, 2005, age 32) - 1,014 yards
That's it. One is the NFL's all-time leading rusher (Smith) and another skipped a season in the middle of his career (Williams).
The second reason what Gore is doing this season is remarkable is he still hasn't missed a single game in quite some time. At age 32, Gore has played in every game since the start of the 2011 season. Only one other running back has the same claim to fame, Cardinals tailback Chris Johnson, who is two years younger than Gore.
So what's Gore's secret to his production and endurance, well past the point when most NFL running backs break down? Not getting hit. Now, before you scratch your head in confusion at the thought of a running back saying he doesn't get hit, let Gore explain, because he's on to something here.
"I don't get hit really. I don't really get flush hit," said Gore Wednesday. "They can't really hit me...clean shots."
It sounds so simple in theory but yet is so hard to do in practice as a running back. Gore says he knows when he has to fight for tough yards and when he can live to fight another day in the heat of the moment on the field. The results support this, as even before Gore's impressive streak without missing a game, he only missed on average 2 games per season from 2005-2010.
"I guess I've been blessed with it," said Gore, when asked who taught him how to run without taking as much punishment from defenders. "I feel great. It's a blessing to say I'm 11 years in feel like I'm still playing good ball."
Gore does attribute it though to his intense offseason workouts down in Miami with other former Hurricanes players from "The U", in particular the younger players like Dolphins RB Lamar Miller and Browns RB Duke Johnson.
"Keeping up with them, I said, 'Okay, I should be alright this year,'" said Gore. The first week, I was like, 'Man.' Being next to those guys, those young boys are fast. Our college coach told us, 'Y'all are going to take a week or two,' to get back used to doing what he had us doing when we were younger."
History still says Gore shouldn't be doing what he's doing. You saw the three exceptions above. For Gore though, it's one thing to train hard. It's another thing to still enjoy training hard, after more than a decade in the NFL.
"It's got to be. I would say that," said Gore, about his passion for football maybe still keeping him around at a high level after all these years, but he always goes back to his training.
"I heard the stuff about (older running backs) before the season. That kind of motivated me to keep working even harder," said Gore. "I just keep a lot of that stuff in my head, also when I'm practicing and playing."
That was the case last game against Denver, when Gore carried the ball 28 times for 83 yards and a touchdown, the first time Gore had that many carries since 2011.
"I was cool with it. Whatever they want me to do, I'm willing to do it," said Gore.
His head coach Chuck Pagano said Wednesday Gore came out of that huge workload healthy.
"If he's rolling like that, and we're staying balanced and gaining yards and he feels good," said Pagano, "then we're going to do what we have to do to win ball games."
And that's quite alright with #23.
"I think playing the game of football should be like that. Help the defense, control the clock," said Gore. "I think that was our best offensive game for four quarters. Moving the chains, running the ball, getting tough yards. I think as an offense, we need to keep doing it."
If the Colts do, Gore will become just the 4th running back in NFL history to rush for more than 1,000 yards at age 32.