The Pro Football Hall of Fame is always sure to bring controversy.
In a digital world where opinions are ripe, who should and shouldn’t be a Hall of Famer is often a back-and-forth debate. Whether certain players deserve it (Steve Atwater, Tony Boselli, Jim Marshall) or don’t (Lynn Swann, Troy Aikman, Terrell Davis) has been a very common point of discussion among NFL fans, but there’s one player in particular I’d like to examine.
Frank Gore was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2005, and since then, he’s accumulated 77 rushing touchdowns, 4.4 yards per carry and 14,478 rushing yards — the fourth most yards of all time.
That’s very impressive. So why is his Hall of Fame status even in question?
There’s no arguing that Gore isn’t consistent: He has only rushed below 1,000 yards five times in his 14-year career and is still producing in the NFL at 36 years old. The main argument against Gore’s entry into Canton is just how good he was at the height of his power.
He’s only been recognized once as an All-Pro, and it was a second-team nod in 2006. Since Pro Bowls include fan voting and are thus not nearly as acclaimed, many argue that Gore, despite his consistency, was never really the best running back in NFL at any point during his career. He existed with talents like Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson, and there is an argument that you could tell the story of the NFL without Gore in it.
So what makes a Hall of Famer? Is it consistency above all else, found in players like Gore? Is it strong peaks like Davis? What about the players who have no All-Pros but are decorated with Super Bowl trophies, like Aikman?
The truth is, all of those things do. But in my eyes, Gore’s consistency and volume of work should easily put him in. Seven of the next eight rushers below him on the all-time rushing yards list are Hall of Famers (and Peterson, at No. 8, likely will be). Perhaps he was never the most dominant running back in the NFL at any time, but he has clearly made his mark on NFL history and deserves to be recognized for it.
On the flip side, I don’t think a short peak with no consistency is deserving of Canton. Davis is a great example — three First-Team All-Pros, 60 rushing touchdowns and a 2,000 yard season but only seven years in the league. I feel consistency should have been more heavily weighed among the voters in his case, but his two Super Bowl rings likely helped sway them.
All in all, what makes a Hall of Fame football player is subjective, and there will never be a true agreement as to what really makes one. In my eyes, however, players like Gore who shine through with their consistency and land their stats among the greats deserve to be among them.
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].