There’s a saying in sports that “Father Time is undefeated,” meaning that no matter how good an athlete is, there will come a day when they can no longer keep up with younger players. However, some current NFL players seem to have — so far — defied Father Time as they have managed to keep their careers going into their late 30s and even 40s.
To determine the oldest active player in the NFL, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from Pro Football Reference. Players who have announced their retirement or did not play in the 2020 NFL season were not considered. Ages are accurate as of March 2, 2021.
The typical NFL career lasts just over three years. But through new training and recovery techniques, improved medical care, and even better nutrition, some players have been able to extend their career to 15 or even 20 seasons.
For instance, QB Alex Smith returned to the NFL in 2020 after a severe leg fracture in 2018 — the same kind of injury that ended the career of Joe Theisman. It is tempting for sports fans to wonder what could have become of athletes from years past if they had the same medical advancements available to them during their professional career.
> Age, birthday: 43 (Aug. 3, 1977)
> Rookie season: 2000
> Games played: 301
> Position, team(s): Quarterback: New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
At 43 years old, Tom Brady is the oldest active player in the NFL, but the future Hall of Famer has proven he’s never lost a step. After two dominant decades in New England — where he won six Super Bowls, won three MVPs, and made 14 Pro Bowls — Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There, he proved just as unstoppable, guiding the Bucs to another Super Bowl. His seventh Super Bowl ring is the most of any player in NFL history and makes him the undisputed G.O.A.T. — greatest of all time.
For years, Brady has insisted that he wanted to play until age 45. Now that he is getting close that age, he’s pushing his limits even further. He told reporters he could see himself playing even beyond 45, if his body holds up.