One running back is Top Five in all-time rushing yards and Top 25 in rushing touchdowns; while the other is Top Ten in all-time rushing yards and just become Top Five in rushing touchdowns. As we watch the ending to the careers of two future Hall of Fame running backs in Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson, my question is simple, who’s career would you rather have?
Frank Gore has already surpassed Jim Brown, Tony Dorsett, Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis, LaDainian Tomlinson and Curtis Martin to move to fourth place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list; and with less than 500 more yards, Gore will be third all-time, moving ahead of Barry Sanders. Also, with four more rushing touchdowns, Gore who is now 36 years old, will be in the Top 20 in rushing touchdowns, currently he has 77 runs into the end zone.
Adrian Peterson’s Hall of Fame resume is almost complete; he too can reach the Top Five all-time in rushing yards if he can comply 800 yards this season; and with Washington losing Derrius Guice to injury, it is likely, if he plays well, that Peterson will do just that. After being inactive in Week One, Peterson scored his 106th career rushing touchdown, moving him past Jim Brown and into fourth place all-time in the NFL. With four more rushing scores, Peterson will surpass Walter Payton for third place all-time. That, along with having three seasons where he led the NFL is rushing yards, including a season where he surpassed the 2,000-yards barrier, Peterson’s career is one that running backs dare not dream of bettering, because to set goals that high would be unrealistic.
It is hard to imagine two more different players than Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson, yet both have put together Hall of Fame careers in their own unique ways. Never flashy, Frank Gore has posted nine seasons of 1,000+ yards and has always averaged at least 3.7 yards per rush, with most seasons that average being over 4.0. While “only” having 77 rushing touchdowns may prevent him from being a first ballot Hall of Famer, there’s no question that putting up the career that he has will one day land Frank Gore in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Unlike other sports where character counts toward entry into the Hall of Fame, Pro Football’s Hall does not take that into account, at least on paper. This means that what Adrian Peterson has done on the field makes him a first ballot Hall of Famer, unless voters wish to make the running back wait after what happened involving his four-year old son a few years ago. Nevertheless, Peterson and Gore will both, one day, have their bust in Canton, don their yellow jackets, and forever be known as Hall of Famers.
Sure, it would been nice to have a career achievement like 2,000 rushing yards on one’s resume, however, the year he did that, Adrian Peterson had the whole team build around him, so posting that many yards was almost expected and definitely needed. If I had to choose, however, I would want the scrappy, never say die attitude of Frank Gore, who, at an age where most running backs have been retired for many years, still continues to carry the ball, using his experience to add to his Hall of Fame career. Also, in the court of public opinion, character matters, which means that despite having a remarkable career, I would never want what Adrian Peterson did off the field to appear next to my name when someone did a Google search.