How many running backs have rushed for 1,000+ yards at age 35?
Just two: Redskins John Riggins in 1984 with 1,239. And John Henry Johnson with 1,048 for the Steelers in 1961.
(Honorable mention to Emmitt Smith with 937 in 2004 in his final season with the Cardinals. And Marcus Allen‘s 890 in 1995.)
In 2019 at age 34, Adrian Peterson‘s 898 yards were the third most rushing yards in a season for a 34-year old back.
AP trailed only John Riggins’ 1,347 in 1983. And, Frank Gore‘s 961 in 2017.
AP and Gore are inextricably linked.
How rare is what AP and Frank Gore are doing?
Only six other backs in NFL history played beyond 35 years of age: Riggins, Marcus Allen, John Henry Johnson, Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny and Ollie Matson. All of those backs are in the Hall of fame.
Adrian Peterson is 35 during the 2020 season and Frank Gore is 37.
2020 Gore v. Peterson – Race For Hall Update
Initially this article was published with 5 games remaining in the 2019 season. Since I love both of these running backs, and for their places in history, where every game is essentially breaking or getting closer to breaking a record, I will update this page frequently.
Is this the last week of action for Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore? Frank Gore was inactive.
Adrian Peterson carried the ball seven times for 63 yards and scored the 124th TUD rushing of his career. That puts him one TD behind Walter Payton and two behind Jim Brown for 10th most all-time.
Final 2020 Season Stats for Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore:
AP = 149 carries, 541 yards, 3.6 ypc, 6 rushing TD
12 receptions for 101 yards
Gore = 187 carries, 653 yards, 3.5 ypc, 2 rushing TD
16 catches for 89 yards
A quiet day at the orifice for AP, with 4 carries for 10 yards. Meanwhile for Frank Gore it was the exact opposite!
With 14 carries for 48 yards, Frank Gore became the 3rd RB in NFL history to rush for 16,000 yards, joining Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
Weeks 13, 14, 15 for AP and Gore:
AP = Adrian Peterson scored 4 total TUDS including back to back two score games in week 13 vs. the Texans on T-giving (15 carries, 55 yards, 2 TUDS), and in week 14 vs. the Bears (16 totes, 57 yards, 2 TUDS). His usage actually went up after the firing of Matt Patricia.
AP’s 117th rushing TDs are 4th most all-time. He is 6 TD behind Marcus Allen for third.
In Week 15, Peterson had a modest 6 carries for 23 yards. Gore on the other hand…almost the exact opposite of AP.
FG = In week 13, Gore had one carry for 2 yards, got concussed, and missed the rest of the game. Week 14 he was back but lost a fumble, otherwise contributing 8 carries for 23 yards and one reception for 8 yards.
Week 15, Frank Gore scored the 81st rushing TD of his career. In an upset victory against the Rams Gore toted the rock 23 times for 59 yards and 1 reception for six yards. The 23-20 win was the Jets’ first win under Adam Gase in 2020, almost a year since their last victory.
The rushing TUD tied Gore with Ottis Anderson for the 19th most in NFL history.
His next rushing TD will tie him with Corey Dillon in 18th place. Gore is only 2 TD from tying Packers legendary RB, Jim Taylor.
What a TREMENDOUS Week 12 of the 2020 season for both backs!
Adrian Peterson started and toted the rock 15 times for 55 yards and 2 TUDS in a Thanksgiving loss to the Texans.
Frank Gore started AGAIN and amassed 74 yards on 18 carries, while adding three receptions on three targets for 12 yards.
Both Peterson and Gore have exceeded usage projections in 2020.
With the release of Le’Veon Bell by the Jets, Gore became the starter and has started all but one game for Adam Gase.
Frank Gore Career Stats thru end of 2019 season
- 15,347 career rushing yards – third most rushing yards of all-time
- 79 rushing TD – 21st most rushing TD all-time
- 19,243 yards from scrimmage – 4th most all-time
- 98 total TD – 25th of all-time
Frank Gore 2020 Stats
Gore has since moved on and signed with the New York Jets and will actually start at RB in week 2 and should receive a heavy workload due to the injury to Le’veon Bell.
Gore had a modest week one, racking up 6 carries for 24 yards. He needs 1,355 more rushing yards in 2020 to tie Walter Payton for second most rushing yards in NFL history.
Adrian Peterson Career Stats thru end of 2019 season
- 117 total touchdowns – 13th most all-time
- 14,216 career rushing yards – fifth most rushing yards of all-time
- 111 rushing TD – 4th most rushing TD all-time
Everyone thought he was dead several times and he just keeps coming back and producing. Look at Peterson’s stats over the last 5 games of 2019:
- 13, 99 1 TD
- 20, 76 1 TD
- 16, 66 1 TD
- 15, 36 1 TD
- 13, 78
Adrian Peterson ended 2019 with 898 rushing yards and a 4.3 yards per carry average.
Adrian Peterson 2020 Stats
Peterson got cut by the Redskins and less than a week later, ran for 93 yards on 14 carries and looked like a 25-year old for the Lions v the Bears. It was incredible; he is the only back I’ve seen in my lifetime that could do something like that after being consistently told to “DIE NOW.”
- 14,309 career rushing yards – fifth most rushing yards of all-time
He needs 960 yards after his performance in week one to tie Barry Sanders for 4th all-time. But at this rate I am NOT doubting AP!
- 111 rushing TD – 4th most rushing TD all-time
He most recent TD passed Walter Payton for 4th most rushing TD ever. He needs 12 to tie Marcus Allen for 3rd most. This is all DOABLE for this monster. And full disclosure I’m a Bears fan so there is no reason I should be rooting for him except that he is a titan of a player.
On 11/24/19, Frank Gore passed Barry Sanders for third in NFL history for career rushing yards with 15,289. That feat alone makes Gore an all-time great.
The consensus is that he will enter the NFL Hall of Fame soon after he retires.
(Related – Adrian Peterson Handshake – I Tested His Grip At The ESPYS!)
What does this mean for Adrian Peterson? It means he is also a Hall of Fame running back. Even though people seem to forget about him. Much like they have done to Gore.
While Gore is third, AP has the 6th most rushing yards in NFL history with 13,861.
So far in 2019, Peterson has quietly passed Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson and ascended from 8th to 6th. He is 240 yards behind Curtis Martin for 5th place.
But how much do Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson have left in the tank?
Peterson is averaging 54.3 ypg in 2019. With five games left, he is on pace for 272 yards. Which means he would pass Martin and end the season with the fifth most rushing yards in NFL history.
Gore is 1,437 yards behind Walter Payton for second most rushing yards in NFL history. He is 3,066 behind Emmitt Smith, who has the most rushing yards in NFL history with 18,355.
With five games left, Gore is averaging 49.2 ypg. Which means he will end the season with 246 more yards and be just under 1,200 yards shy of Sweetness. To eclipse him, he will need to play two more seasons at his current production.
Comparing their production, you realize how similar the careers of Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson have been.
Gore is 36-years old and is in his 15th season with his fourth NFL team. Peterson is 34-years old and is in his 14th NFL season with his fourth team. Only 1,468 rushing yards seperate them.
Due to injury and suspension, Adrian Peterson missed almost two full seasons (2014 and 2016). Because of that, there is a desparity in carries – Gore has had 3,519 to Peterson’s 2,959. 560 more carries!
Based on his career ypc average of 4.7, that gives AP 2,632 more yards. But that is merely hypothetical – and fun to think about.
If Gore retires after 2019, AP would pass Gore for third all-time in 26 games, based on his current average ypg of 54.3. Possible, but not probable. But if anyone could stick around, AP is the guy.
What about rushing touchdowns? This is where Peterson creates seperation from Gore.
Adrian Peterson has 107 rushing touchdowns which is 5th most in NFL history. He is three TD away from tying Walter Payton for 4th with 110.
Frank Gore is 21st all-time with rushing 79 TD. He is one TD away from tying Edgerrin James for 20th.
What about most total touchdowns?
Adrian Peterson has scored 113 total touchdowns, tied for 15th most in NFL history. Frank Gore has scored 98 which is 25th most in NFL history.
Which running back has the most yards from scrimmage in NFL history – Gore or Peterson?
Interestingly, and to much less acclaim, Gore also passed Marshall Faulk for fourth place on the NFL Yards From Scrimmage list with 19,155 total yards.
But Peterson weighing in at 14th all-time is nothing to sneeze at. And frankly, more than I thought he would have.
Entering the last 1/3 of the 2019 NFL season, we are watching two of the best running backs in NFL history wind down their careers at the same time. Which is a real treat for NFL history buffs.
So who is better – Frank Gore or Adrian Peterson?
After analyzing all this data, I think both players are Hall of Fame caliber and should ultimately be inducted. Statisitcally, in an era where RBs have been completely devalued, they have both produced at historic levels.
Both backs have had such similar, and successful, careers that it becomes a matter of personal preference.
How do YOU take your RBs?
Want speed and power? AP is your guy. Want shiftiness and great hands? Gore is for you.
In the meantime, we should enjoy every remaining carry for both Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson. And realize that each player has had a special career before they are over.
2 thoughts on “Frank Gore Vs. Adrian Peterson – Who Makes Hall Of Fame?”
Nice & quite positive article on both Gore and Peterson. In my mind, Peterson is the best running back that has ever played in the NFL. Basically, he has the strength to simply bowl over or actually throw a defender to the ground with one arm, and the speed to outrun everyone when he gets an opening. Walter Payton probably was the best all-around NFL RB (including blocking, catching, and throwing) but he would get caught from behind, even in his first few years in the NFL. Barry Sanders probably was the most elusive NFL RB (Sayers is close or even better) but he was not the kind of back to bowl defenders over (like Peterson or Earl Campbell). Peterson has plenty of haters because of his child abuse case, but anyone who has seen his highlights (especially in his rookie year at Chicago and vs San Diego) should agree that there has never been another player that could match his combination of strength, speed, and elusiveness (strength showed up more in subsequent years; see 3rd TD run at Cleveland in 2009). Gore was steady and amazingly durable after suffering two major knee injuries before entering NFL. What Peterson did in 2012 after completely rupturing his ACL and MCL near the end of the 2011 season and playing the latter half of 2012 with a sports hernia is almost inhuman.
Thanks for the comment Julius. Love that you mentioned the 3rd TD against the Browns. That is the greatest run I’ve ever seen in my lifetime:
The way he came back from the knee injury completely changed how we view recovery time from knee injuries, in every sport and scenario. The child abuse situation damaged how he was viewed, and people have been trying to shovel dirt on his grave for the last 3 years. But everywhere he goes, he produces.
Gore was an injury risk coming out of Miami as you mentioned. He also has torn both labrums, and that says a lot about his running style. Unbelievably tough back.
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