Gore: I'm still competing against the top guys in the league

September 07, 2019 - 3:03 pm

Emmitt Smith. Walter Payton. Barry Sanders. That's it. That's the list of running backs ahead of the Bills' Frank Gore on the NFL's all-time rushing yardage list.

All Hall of Famers. All considered among the game's best to ever play. Heading into 2019, Gore needs only 522 rushing yards to pass Sanders and move into third all-time. He needs only 611 yards from scrimmage (rushing + receiving) to pass Marshall Faulk for fourth on the all-time list. If the 36-year old runs for at least 522 yards, he'll trail only Smith and Payton.

I recently sat down with Gore for an exclusive one-on-one interview to ask him what he thought about those players in from of him, his place in history, who he emulated as younger back, and his chase up the ladder. Here's what he had to say:

On Emmitt Smith:

"One of the best. I respect his game. He played the game the right way. We had the same coordinator in Norv Turner. He told me our styles are similar. Very patient, very smart runners. I respect Emmitt a whole lot."

On Walter Payton:

"I didn't get a chance to watch him, but I saw highlights. Powerful. Strong. Broke a lot of tackles. I played with his son. I know he used to run hills a lot all offseason."

On Barry Sanders:

"How I pick running backs, I always go off what situation they're in. I look at guys and what they had around them. Barry never had any top guys around him, and as a running back that's tough. Everybody is coming to focus on you, and to get 15,000 yards in ten years, man, that's crazy. I watched Barry. He was very special. He was slippery, strong, fast. The biggest thing, like I said before, is just knowing the type of team he was on and still to do what he did, that's crazy."

On Sanders averaging 5.0 yards per carry for his career:

"That's tough. And he didn't play with any superstars. As a back, when you have no other guys outside, like receivers who people resect, and a quarterback who people respect, they all come to stop the run. He was basically playing against goal line defenses."

On who he emulated:

"Once I got into the league I liked to watch LaDainian Tomlinson. He was nice, man. Quick, strong, great eyes, able to catch the ball. In San Diego, he didn't have any guys (around him) that people respected, and he was still getting 100 catches and 1200-1300 yards. He still was ballin'. That's basically kind of similar (to me). When I first got to San Fran we weren't as good. Everybody came to Candlestick to stop No. 21. But I still would have a way to be blessed to produce."

On thinking about possibly catching Sanders:

"I do at times. But my main focus is to compete with these young guys. I'm still playing. I've been blessed to play 15 years. I just want to show people that I can still be successful this year and do whatever it takes to help our team be successful, as a team, and I think that, if God willing I'm healthy, and being me, I think I got a chance to get it. But I'm trying to compete against the top guys in the NFL now. I'm not thinking about stats yet. At the end of the year, if I'm healthy and I'm playing good ball, I should get it. But right now I want to compete against Zeke. I want to compete against the guys in my room. Compete against Le'Veon. I'm still playing, so that's what I think about."

Here is the all-time rushing leaders' list:

Here is the all-time yards from scrimmage leaders' list:

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