The 40-Year-Old Quarterback Club
Brady Makes 40 Look Good
What Tom Brady is doing isn’t unusual in NFL circles. When he takes his first snap of the 2017 season, the New England Patriots quarterback will be the 20th QB in league history to play into his 40s. But he will be just the second to do so while spending his entire career with one team, yet another notch in his spectacular list of career achievements. The New England legend is also Bovada’s second favorite, at +550, to pass for the most yards this season.
A look at some of the NFL’s other 40-something QBs, and how they fared:
The oldest player in NFL history, Blanda was 48 when he played his farewell season for the Oakland Raiders in 1975. But he was reduced to a role as the team’s kicker by then. Blanda made just three pass attempts in 1975, and was 41 when he made his final NFL start at QB in 1968.
The epitome of a journeyman, DeBerg took snaps for six teams during his career and actually started one game for the Atlanta Falcons in 1998 at the age of 44. Still, DeBerg was long before reduced to a role as a back-up, seeing his last duty as a No. 1 QB at the age of 37 with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1991.
Hall of Famer Moon didn’t make it to the NFL until the age of 28, joining the Houston Oilers after a successful stint with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos. He was still going strong well into his 40s, serving as starting QB for the Seattle Seahawks in 1998 at the age of 42. Moon led the NFL in passing yardage per game (245.7) the season prior, and made his final NFL start for the Chiefs at age 44 in 2000.
Flutie started five games for the San Diego Chargers in 2003 when he was 41 and started one more the following season. The last QB to lead the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs, Flutie was 43 when he finished his career as Brady’s backup with the 2005 Patriots.
Morrall was 41 when he started his last NFL game for the 1975 Miami Dolphins, but he’s best remembered in Miami for replacing the injured Bob Griese in 1972 and going 9-0 at the helm during the Dolphins’ perfect 17-0 Super Bowl season. Morrall also won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts and was named NFL MVP in 1968.
Favre went 12-4 while starting all 16 games for the 2009 Minnesota Vikings at the age of 40, and he was at the helm for 13 of 16 games the following season. He retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yardage and touchdowns, marks since surpassed by Peyton Manning.
The first one-team 40-something quarterback in NFL history, Conerly led the New York Giants to the 1956 NFL title and started four games in 1961 at the age of 40. He started games in every season of his NFL career. Conerly held virtually all of the Giants’ passing records until his marks were shattered by Phil Simms. He not only played into his 40s, Conerly also wore No. 42 on his jersey, a rarity for a QB. After football, he gained further fame in ads as the Marlboro Man.
Hall of Famer Dawson started five games for the Chiefs in 1975 at the age of 40 and led the NFL in completion percentage (66.4) for the eighth time in his career. Dawson quarterbacked the Chiefs in Super Bowl I and led the team to its only Super Bowl win in Super Bowl IV.
Reduced to a second-string role by the age of the 37, Jurgensen nonetheless started four games for the Washington Redskins after his 40th birthday in 1974 and threw for 11 touchdowns. He led the league in passing yardage five times and the Hall of Famer’s 82.2 career passer rating is the best of any NFL QB who played prior to 1978.
Traded to the San Diego Chargers after 17 seasons at the helm of the Baltimore Colts, Unitas, 40, started five games for the Chargers in 1973. He led the Colts to Super Bowl V in 1970 and to the AFC Championship Game the following season. The Hall of Famer topped the NFL in TD passes and passing yardage four times apiece.
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