DAVIE — Frank Gore knows what you’re thinking.
OK, maybe not you, specifically, but “you,” as in many of you out there.
He’s the former University of Miami hero who in a perfect world would have been drafted by his hometown Dolphins, which he thought would happen way back in 2005. Didn’t happen. But that was a lot of years and a lot of yards — actually, a lot of miles — ago.
He’s finally wearing Dolphins colors and about to turn 35, which isn’t ancient by running back standards.
It’s unheard of.
But if you think this is some kind of yearlong farewell tour for Frank Gore, forget it.
“Some guys go to different teams and feel like when they get older, they just want to just ride the coattails of other guys,” said Gore, who ran for 961 for Indianapolis last year. “I don’t want to do that. I respect every man on this team. But I’m here to still play and help the young guys, but I want to show the fans in Miami that I can still be a top guy in this league.”
Gore doesn’t walk around boasting about it, but it’s a sense of pride that the only backs to have ever rushed for more yards than his 14,026 are named Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin.
“I don’t think about it, but when people ask me, it’s a blessing,” Gore said. “Thinking about where I came from, coming out of college with two ACLs and all the doubters saying I won’t be able to play two or three years, getting picked in the third round was a reach — I’m still going.”
Gore played at Coral Gables High before becoming a Hurricane. The San Francisco 49ers stole him in the third round in ’05, the 65th pick overall. The Dolphins had the second pick that year and chose a running back, but it was Auburn’s Ronnie Brown, who had a good career, including a 1,008-yard season in 2006, but his 5,391 yards don’t compare to Gore’s.
“When I had to do the workout for the team, I thought they were going to take me in like the second or third round,” Gore said of the Dolphins. “But when they took Ronnie, I was like, ‘That’s out the door.’ Because they worked the hell out of me. I said, ‘I might have a chance to get drafted here,’ but it didn’t happen, but it’s all good. I feel like I’ve had a pretty good career so far.”
Now it comes full circle. Not only is he back home, but he finally gets to watch his son, Frank Jr., playing for Miami-Killian High. Junior, if you really had to ask, is a running back.
“My kids get to see me every day,” Gore said. “I get to see my oldest son’s high school games. It’s probably my first time to really get to see him play since I’ve been in the NFL, so that’s a plus. Just to be back playing in front of my fans, it’s very big and I’m happy for it.”
Gore recently was talking with an older cousin who pointed out he’ll soon be No. 4 on the all-time rushing list.
“I told him I don’t think about it because, I guess, I’m still playing,” Gore said. “I think when I’m done, then I’ll look back and then it probably will hit me. I’ve been blessed and I’m happy.
“I’m going to show this organization that they picked the right guy by bringing me in this year.”