The Indianapolis Colts were handled pretty easily on Sunday by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the 3-9 Colts did have one notable highlight. Running back Frank Gore rushed for 61 yards on 13 carries, and the 49ers legend made a big move up the all-time rushing leaderboard. He climbed ahead of both Jerome Bettis and Ladainian Tomlinson, into fifth place all time. He is 304 yards back of Curtis Martin for No. 4.
As Gore has continued to chug along, there has been more discussion about his Hall of Fame case. NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal put together a great read on him, with Tomlinson commenting on Gore’s greatness and obvious case for the Hall of Fame.
Last week, there was an article poo-poo’ing Gore’s Hall of Fame chances. It talked about how he was not one of the first names you thought of for the past 20 years, and then proceeded to list off various names. One of them was Jerome Bettis. The Hall of Fame running back was a huge personality, and put up huge numbers over the course of his career, but I made some comments about Gore being a clearly better running back and an obvious HOF candidate if Bettis was in.
That brought some Steelers fans out of the woodwork. One said Gore was very good, but not sufficiently great to be a Hall of Famer. He talked about how Bettis brought a new style and was All Pro this and Pro Bowl that. Bettis did some great things for Pittsburgh, but he also was a notable personality with the media and fans because of his oversized personality. There’s nothing wrong with that, but because Gore has engaged in virtually no self-promotion throughout his career, he should be penalized in Hall of Fame balloting?
We do not need to denigrate Bettis, but I can say that if he is in, Gore has to be in. Gore has more rushing yards, and has averaged 4.4 yards per carry throughout his career to Bettis’ 3.9 yards per carry. Gore has nearly 2,200 more total yards from scrimmage than Bettis, putting together 11 straight seasons with 1,200 or more yards from scrimmage to Bettis’ eight for his career.
The yards from scrimmage show Gore’s strong ability as a pass catcher, but we can’t forget about his ability as a pass blocker. He was as good as they come. He was a key leader on the 49ers, even when things were bad. And you could argue his lack of team success provides even more reason to vote for him. He did all this with a lot of shaky quarterbacks and at times questionable offensive lines.
In the rushing yards leaderboard, Gore ranks No. 5 all time. In the top ten, only Gore is not in the Hall of Fame. In the top 16, only Adrian Peterson and Edgerrin James join him. In the yards from scrimmage leaderboard, Gore ranks No. 9 all time. In the top 11, he’s the only player not in the Hall of Fame.
If Gore is not a first ballot Hall of Famer, it will be an absolute travesty.