Reserve football immortality for the best of the best


Keep Frank Gore out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Gore retired from professional football in 2022 after playing 16 seasons in the National Football League. The prevailing conversation surrounding Gore’s legacy quickly became when Gore would have a bust in Canton, not if he deserved one at all.

Thirty-two running backs have busts in Canton. Gore becomes eligible for induction in 2026. If Hall of Fame voters induct Gore, each of those 32 all-time greats should think less of their own inductions.

Gore’s Hall of Fame candidacy rests almost entirely on his career rushing-yards total — third highest in NFL history. That figure grossly overstates Gore’s impact on the football field. It suggests consistent greatness.

Instead, Gore was never truly great — just solidly above average for a long time.

Truly great players vie for the title of “best player at their position” during their primes. Every running back currently inducted into the Hall of Fame has at least one first-team Associated Press All-Pro selection. Gore has none.

In 2006, by far Gore’s best statistical season, Gore earned his sole second-team AP All-Pro selection. That means at the peak of his career, NFL media believed at least two running backs were definitively better than Gore. One of those backs, Larry Johnson, will never sniff Hall of Fame induction.

Gore’s impressive career rushing total is a product of his longevity.

For comparison, Barry Sanders sits fourth on the all-time rushing yards list, just under 1,000 yards behind Gore’s 16,000. Sanders posted his total in 10 seasons compared to Gore’s 16.

In Sanders’ 10 seasons, he earned first-team AP All-Pro honors six times. That is a legacy defined by dominance. The Hall of Fame has chiefly rewarded dominance in its modern-era selections. Why make an exception for Gore?

Justifying Gore’s candidacy requires voters to ignore context. Reserve enshrinement in Canton for the best of the best, not the solidly above average for a long time.


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