Jets coach Adam Gase and RB Frank Gore's careers have crossed paths yet again. In 2008, Gore was in his fourth year in the NFL with the 49ers and Gase was an offensive assistant. Ten years later, the future Hall of Fame back signed with Gase's Dolphins.
"Frank brings something that is really hard to teach," said Gase a few days after the Jets inked him to a new deal. "He's a natural leader. He's the kind of guy that guys respect around the NFL. He's done a great job as far as helping younger players that are in the room. I think he's a good teammate especially the last three or four years in that backup role and the supporting role of whoever that starter is. He's a great guy for Le'Veon [Bell] to be around. Those two guys can really do some damage together. We have two guys that can play all three downs. They both have outstanding skillsets. There's a little bit of difference in their running style and how they do things, but we know Frank really well and we know how to use them."
The 36-year-old has been proving doubters wrong since he was labeled injury prone because of college knee injuries. Since he was drafted in the third round in 2005, he's played a full season nine years and has played in at least 14 games in all but one season — 2010 (11). His 15,347 rushing yards rank third in NFL history and he has 15 consecutive seasons with at least 500 yards and 125 carries, which are both NFL records. It's easy to see why younger players gravitate toward the 16th-year pro because of his résumé, but Gase said his mentality is infectious.
"When I was with him in 2008, he was young," he said. "He only knows one speed, he was full-tilt all the time. Then getting back with him 10 years later, guys watched him practice and were shocked at his work ethic, thinking, 'Man, this guy has been doing it a long time. He's had a lot of carries, he has a lot of miles on him. This guy goes in practice like it's Monday Night Football.' That's how Frank has always operated. He's never taken anything for granted. I think the biggest mistake most people make is they doubt him and they tell him something that he can't do whether it was injury, age or whatever the circumstance may be. He's proven people wrong time and time again.
"It seems to be a trend when you get around guys that are future Hall of Fame players that they all seem to have a very similar makeup. It's outstanding work ethic, football intelligence and that natural leadership where they affect other guys in a positive way."
After the Jets-Bills season finale in Orchard Park, Gore found his way into the Green & White's locker room and exchanged jerseys with All-Pro S Jamal Adams, which could be looked back on as an unknown case of foreshadowing. General manager Joe Douglas has consistently said he's trying to create the best culture in sports and Gore embodies what Douglas is looking for as Gore joins a backfield that features Bell and rookie back La'Mical Perine.
"We're really excited about not only the production he's brought in his career but we're really excited about the chemistry he's going to bring to the running backs room and to the locker room," Douglas said. "When we talk about a player that has been a top-tier rusher in this league and also has a great work ethic, a true pro, he's really going to help the guys like La'Mical Perine, Josh Adams and Kenny Dixon. It's a relatively young running back room right now behind Le'Veon, so he's definitely going to help those young guys and he's going to be a great example for them moving forward.
"It's exciting to add a player of his caliber and a person of his caliber to our team and I know the relationship that he had with Coach Gase at Miami was a big reason that he decided to come here, so we're very excited to add him to the room."