Football careers tend to be brief. It’s a brutally physical sport, and a lot of players, even successful ones, barely make it to 30 when they call it quits. On occasion, though, a player sails past 30 and makes it to 40 while still being an active NFL player. Here is a list of every non-special teams player to play in the NFL in their 40s. That basically means we’re excluding the kickers and punters who make up the bulk of 40-somethings in NFL history. Apologies to Adam Vinatierinb游戏平台, Jeff Feagles, Miami's long snapper John Denney and like.
Jones is a bizarre story. He played in one game at 40. It was his only game in his NFL career. No, really. The offensive tackle made his NFL debut as a 40-year-old in 2014. He played for the Tennessee Titans, who were technically his third team of the season. Jones just never played for the other two.
Ferguson also only played in one game in his 40s, but his story is a bit more normal. He was the Buffalo Billsnb游戏平台 starting quarterback for the bulk of the ‘70s, once leading the NFL in passing touchdowns and passing yards (and also twice leading the league in interceptions). Many years later, Ferguson appeared in one game for the Colts in 1990. He completed two of his eight passes for 21 yards.
Krieg spent the entirely of the ‘80s, and the beginning of the ‘90s, with the Seattle Seahawks. He eventually became their starting quarterback, even making three Pro Bowls. After that he hopped around the NFL and got to spend a year starting for the Cardinals, and a year for the Bears, as the starter in his late 30s. In his final season, 1998, he appeared in five games for the Titans, two of those games after he had turned 40.
Speaking of the Cardinals, Hart spent almost his entire career with the franchise when it was in St. Louis. He suited up under center for at least one game every season between 1966 and 1983 for the Cardinals. Then he spent one season with Washington after turning 40, appearing in two games. In his career, Hart made four Pro Bowls, all with St. Louis, obviously.
This just happened, as McCown played his three games as a 40-year-old with the Eagles in 2019. He even appeared in a playoff game after Carson Wentz got injured! The journeyman quarterback is also famous for having played at least one game for eight different franchises.
Bratkowski never spent a full season as a starter in the NFL, but he stuck around for a while. He also managed to bring home two Super Bowl rings, as he was the backup to Bart Starr on the Green Bay Packers that won the first two Super Bowls. He hung it up after the 1968 season, when he was only 37, but made a return in 1971. Zeke appeared in six games and actually got one start for the Packers that year.
The sad story of the end of Unitas’ NFL career is well known at this point. Much like Willie Maysnb游戏平台’ stint with the Mets, Unitas left the Baltimore Colts, the only team he had ever known, to spend a season with the Chargers when he was 40. He managed to appear in only five games, starting four, and he threw three touchdowns against seven picks. It was a down note on which to end a Hall of Fame career.
We have back-to-back Hall of Famers, but Seau’s story is even sadder than Unitas’. Seau was a legendary defenseman for the Chargers and then spent a few years with the Patriots to end his career, playing seven games as a 40-year-old in his final season. Tragically, a lifetime of brain damage caused by playing football left him with CTE, and Seau committed suicide at 43.
Considering that Hasselbeck didn’t become an NFL starter until he was 26, he still managed to have a prolific career. Hasselbeck played for 17 years and made 160 starts. He also made three Pro Bowls and led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl. In his final season he stepped up to start eight games for the Colts, the team he had been a backup for in the prior two years.
This is a crazy story. DeBerg retired after the 1993 season when he was 39. It looked like he was going to miss out on this list. Then, randomly, in 1998 the Falcons signed him as a backup. DeBerg was 44 by this time! He ended up appearing in eight games, even making one start. This was the year the Falcons went to the Super Bowl, by the way.
nb游戏平台Conerly is an old-school name. Case in point, he was a quarterback, but he wore the number 42. Conerly began his career way back in 1948 with the Giants, the only team he ever played for. He retired after the 1961 season, a year in which he played eight games as a 40-year-old. So here we have a player who played into his 40s but also never had a chance to play in the Super Bowl era.
nb游戏平台This list is heavy on quarterbacks, which isn’t surprising. Other than kickers and punters, they take the fewest big hits. Evans spent only one full season as a starter, in 1981 with the Bears. He went 6-10 and threw 11 touchdowns against 25 interceptions. Evans made nine appearances as a 40-year-old with the Raiders, including three starts.
nb游戏平台Here’s a name you know about. Brees is a future Hall of Famer and a living legend. He’s thrown more touchdowns than any player in NFL history. He’s already made 11 starts in his 40s, but he’s not done yet. Brees is coming back for one more season with the Saints.
nb游戏平台Dawson started his career so long ago that he spent a season with the Dallas Texans before they moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs (and he already had five seasons under his belt). Dawson is a legend in Kansas City, and with good reason. The bulk of his Hall of Fame career was there, and he led the team to a Super Bowl win as well. In his final season, 1975, he played in 12 games and started five with Kansas City. He was still decent too. Dawson actually led the NFL in completion percentage.
nb游戏平台The Hall of Fame lineman is the first player on this list to play in multiple seasons as a 40-year-old. That’s because in his final season, 1995, he played one game for the Rams as a 41-year-old. The year prior, of course, he played in 12 games while he was already 40, including seven starts. He wasn’t in his prime, but the seven-time Pro Bowler still got it done.
Half of the NFC East has fond memories of Jurgensen. He started 39 games with the Eagles, making an All-Pro team once, and then moved onto Washington where he started 108 more games and made one more All-Pro squad. The Hall of Famer’s last season was in D.C., where he appeared in 14 games and started four. He still had some of his skills, as he threw 11 touchdowns against five picks.
No, not the Clay Matthews who is currently playing. That’s the son of this Clay Matthews, and while his son has arguably had a better career, the elder Clay Matthews was no slouch. The pass rusher made four Pro Bowls and had a pretty incredible final season, given his age. Despite being 40, he had 6.5 sacks for the Falcons in 1995.
Johnson was 39 when the 2008 season started, otherwise he would have played a full 16-game season as a 40-year-old. Instead, he had to settle for being a 40-year-old for a mere 15 games of his NFL career. The quarterback was a backup on the Cowboys, getting three starts. He will be best remembered as one of the ultimate “game manager” quarterbacks, starting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneersnb游戏平台 when they won the Super Bowl
Here’s the first player to play a full 16 games as a 40-year-old. The center started the season for the Falcons as a 39-year-old and then served as a backup center for the Falcons in 1986. Yes, he didn’t get a single start, but he technically appeared in 16 games as a 40-year-old. Hey, Van Note made six Pro Bowls. He earned his spot.
nb游戏平台Smith is a Hall of Famer and the only player in NFL history with 200 sacks in his career. After being maybe the best defensive player in the NFL for years in Buffalo, he spent his final four seasons with Washington. In 2003 he played a season as a 40-year-old, and he picked up five sacks. Without those, he would have had to settle for a mere 195 sacks in his career, like a bum.
Back-to-back Hall of Famers named Bruce who played a full season as a 40-year-old. Matthews wasn’t merely holding on, though. In his final season with the Titans he started all 16 games on the offensive line, and he actually made the Pro Bowl. So why did he retire? Well, merely making the Pro Bowl was kind of a step down for him. He had been an All-Pro the three prior seasons.
Brunell is best remembered as one of the first faces of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was their starting quarterback from the get-go, including when they got good. Many years later, he would end his career with the Jets. Brunell served as a backup for two games in 2010 and then for 16 more in 2011, which kept him playing until he was 41.
nb游戏平台Favre had a hard time letting go, but at first he was justified for that. During the season in which he turned 40, he started all 16 games for the Vikings and led them to a 12-4 record while throwing for 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He decided that was enough to to give it a go for one more season. That year didn’t go quite as well. Favre threw 11 touchdowns against 19 interceptions and was injured, ending his consecutive start streak and his career.
Flutie’s career basically peaked in college, or maybe with his cereal, Flutie Flakes. And yet the undersized quarterback stuck around for a long time, including 26 games after turning 40. Those games came fits and starts too. Flutie played in four different seasons in his 40s and actually didn’t retire until he was 43. That year he appeared in five games with the Patriots and famously made a drop kick.
Forced to start his career in the CFL,Moon didn’t make his NFL debut until he was 28. Lucky for him, he was incredibly talented and durable. When Moon was 41, he made a Pro Bowl for the Seattle Seahawks. He spent one more season with the Seahawks, starting 10 games, before making spot appearances with the Chiefs. His last start came in 2000 when he was a 44-year-old.
Testaverde didn’t merely sit around as a 40-year-old backup. He made 32 starts in his 40s, including six as a 44-year-old with the Carolina Panthersnb游戏平台. And he came full circle. As a rookie in 1987 he threw five touchdowns and six interceptions. In 2007 he finished his career by throwing…five touchdowns and six interceptions.
Wow, an NFL player who played in 32 games in his 40s but isn’t a quarterback or a kicker? Believe it! Marshall did it on the defensive line for the Vikings. While some may remember him for his, he appeared in two Pro Bowls, and starting 16 games on the defensive line as a 42-year-old is incredible.
nb游戏平台Morall was a journeyman, but he had a nice little journey. After all, in his late 30s he won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dophins and actually made two playoff starts for the undefeated 1972 team. He stuck around for a few more years as a backup, picking up 41 games in his 40s. Finally, we have a guy who played 40 after 40.
nb游戏平台Hey, when you are by far the greatest wide receiver of all time, you get to play as long as you want. Not that Rice was just adding games to his total in his 40s. As a 40-year-old he made the Pro Bowl for the Raiders with 92 catches for 1,211 yards. Most receivers in their prime can’t do that, but Rice played two more seasons after that.
Green is the defensive equivalent of Rice, inasmuch as he was a Hall of Famer who got to play as long as he felt his body was holding up. Given that he was a defensive back, it’s incredible he was as good as he was for as long as he was. He made a Pro Bowl at 37 and was always considered one of the fastest guys in the NFL almost to the end. Spending his entire career in Washington, Green ended his career in 2002 as a 42-year-old. He didn’t have an interception, but he defensed three passes and had two tackles for loss.
Weirdly, Brown made his first, and only, Pro Bowl at 39. He then spent two seasons starting at right guard for the Detroit Lions, not missing a single game. After that, despite being 42, he moved on to Washington where he earned 14 more starts. In his final season he started only two games for Washington, but he was 43 so it was still quite impressive.
What can we really say about Brady at this point? Many consider him the best quarterback of his era — maybe the best ever. He has more Super Bowl rings than he knows what to do with. Yes, his 2019 season was a little lackluster, but he has started 48 games as an NFL quarterback in his 40s. Right now, he’s tied with Brown for the second-most games even as a 40-year-old outside of kickers. Since he says he wants to try and play at least into his mid-40s, we think he’ll add plenty to that total.
By the end of his career, Blanda was basically just a kicker, but we are still including him for a couple of reasons. One, he played 125 games after turning 40. He didn’t retire until he was 48. Two, he started his career as a quarterback and kicker, and he was still serving as a backup/emergency/gadget quarterback with the Raiders until he retired. As a 45-year-old he went 5-of-15 passing for 77 yards and a touchdown. In his final season he completed a pass and also threw an interception. So yeah, he may have been a “kicker,” but we still think Blanda needs to top this list.
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