Saints QB Drew Brees raised some eyebrows recently when he said he thinks he can play in the NFL for 10 more years. (He also tweeted he was drug tested twice randomly after he said it…hilarious.) Of course, he’s already played 14 seasons, meaning he’d have a 24-year career that last until he’s 45 years old. Sounds crazy, right? It’s not as crazy as you think.
First, he sites recent success stories like Brett Favre playing until he was 41 years old, and he played at a high level, a near MVP level at age 40. He also mentions how successful guys like Tom Brady (36) and Peyton Manning (38) still are.
It’s more than that though. Plenty of players made it past age 40.
Consider George Blanda played until he was 48 years old. That’s a record. Sure, it was a different era and he only kicked the last few years of his career. So, you aren’t impressed.
So how about Warren Moon, Vinny Testaverde, and Steve DeBerg playing until they were 44 years old! Did you even realize that?
So they were mainly backups and didn’t really move around much you say. Okay. They still played.
And how about Doug Flutie, one of the biggest scrambling quarterbacks in NFL history? He played until he was 43!!!
Earl Morrall played until he was 42. Mark Brunell played until he was 41.
Johnny Unitas, Len Dawson, Sonny Jergensen, Dave Krieg, Vince Evans, Jim Hart, Wade Wilson, Joe Ferguson, and Brad Johnson all made it to age 40.
NFL careers are short. Very short. But a select few have the skill, health, and good fortune to last for a long time. Brees, Brady, and Manning all have had a serious injury, but not injury-prone careers. They’ve all been madly successful. They all win with their minds as much, if not more so, than their physical abilities.
There is no doubt in my mind they could make it until 45 if they wanted to. Part of what history tells us is that you can stay in the league, but not compete at a high level. With how competitive these guys are, would they be willing to accept a back-up role just to stick in the league? I tend to doubt it. But I do struggle to doubt their ability to keep having success. If a player could still be a starting QB at age 45, it would be one of those 3 guys.