ANDERSON, Ind. – When Ryan Grigson ponders the distinguished career of Frank Gore, he goes back to the history lessons he learned growing up in northwest Indiana.
In the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century, "Old Ironsides" was a naval ship known for its incredible longevity and appearances in some of the biggest battles for the youthful nation of the United States.
The results and reliability the Navy had with "Old Ironsides" is similar to how the Colts view their starting running back.
Think of Frank Gore and his impeccable durability and consistent productivity. It's unmatched in today's NFL.
"I think it comes down to mindset with Frank," the Colts GM says of Gore. "I know genetics play a big role and the way he trains of course, but there's something about someone like him that exudes a true iron will to consistently produce, regardless of any circumstance. You get why so many of his former coaches and personnel men love the guy."
Gore, who has played the game of football since he was four years old, is entering his 12th NFL season.
The last time he missed a game, Andrew Luck was in his second year as Stanford's starting quarterback.
"Frank defies all those stereotypes about an aging running back," Luck says. "He must have the fountain of youth down in south Florida. He's incredible.
"He works his butt off, so it's not surprising that he's always in shape and ready to go and runs as hard as he does. Not just running the ball, but the thing I admire so much about him is his knowledge of the game and his pass protection skills. The young guys learn as much from watching him as they do from any install or any coach. He's one of those guys that in 30 or 40 years from now I'll be able to tell kids and grandkids I got to play with Frank Gore."
Besides Gore, only one other running back in the NFL can claim they have not sat out a game since 2010.
In May, Gore turned 33 years old. With a contract through 2017, Gore is steadfast in that his body has not impeded his play.
When that happens, Gore won't be playing anymore.
"If I felt different I wouldn't play the game," Gore states. "That's why I train so hard to make sure I can be ready for camp and so I can go hard every day and so I can compete with the guys I'm competing against."
While the Colts know Gore is on the verge of ending several team droughts (1,000-yard season and a 100-yard rushing game), there are some career marks that will aid the future Hall of Fame resume, too.
- With 1,000 rushing yards, Gore would join Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (11), Curtis Martin (10), Walter Payton (10) and Barry Sanders (10) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in at least nine different seasons.* *Gore would be the first running back at the age of 33 or older to rush for 1,000 yards since John Riggins in 1984.
- Gore's 12,040 career rushing yards ranks 15th in NFL history. He needs 700 rushing yards to pass Tony Dorsett (12,739) for eighth on the NFL's all-time rushing list.
- Gore's 2,702 career rushing attempts ranks 17th in NFL history. He needs 248 carries to pass Franco Harris (2,949) for 10th on the NFL's all-time list.
New offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski assures that there won't be a "pitch count" for Gore in 2016.
Yes, the Colts will try and keep Gore as fresh as possible, but they also know the luxury they have in No. 23.
"Frank is timeless," Chud says. "Backs with great vision, like Frank has, they age well. He's able to see holes and find holes.
"The other thing about Frank is that it hasn't gotten too old to him. He still loves being out there. He's like a kid playing. We had the first day of pads, and he's yelling and screaming and having fun and wanting the ball and wanting to run certain plays and all that kind of stuff. Those are the guys that you love and you love coaching and you love having on your team."