The NFL is a young man’s game. Teams are constantly looking to get younger, faster, stronger and cheaper players to round out their rosters. Yet there remains a strong contingency of long-toothed veterans around the league. And among that group is a group of grizzled greybeards who can still dominate their younger competition.
These five men, aged 36 and older, have already won the battle against Father Time. They have exceeded expectations and have nothing left to prove. Yet they continue to show up year after year, week after week, and day after day to bring pain to the opposition.
Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals
Larry Legend is going to turn 37 years old this August. He’s still one of the best in the business.
As sure-handed as they come, Fitzgerald caught 75 passes for 804 yards and four touchdowns last season playing with rookie Kyler Murray. He is still as dominant as ever as a run-blocker on the edge, and Fitzgerald’s ability to haul in impossible receptions (like this) is legendary. It will be a sad day when this guy ever really does retire. Until then, we’ll continue to enjoy watching the fruits of his labor.
Frank Gore, running back, New York Jets
The Inconvenient Truth has been grinding up opposing defenses for 15 consecutive seasons and wants to keep banging in the trenches for at least one more year. Recently signed to a one-year deal with the New York Jets, Gore continues to provide value entering his age-37 season.
Last year with the Buffalo Bills, Gore beat out LeSean McCoy in the preseason, then went on to total 699 yards and two touchdowns appearing in all 16 games. The future Hall of Famer may not be as explosive as he was in his heyday, but Gore is still the best pass-blocking back in the business.
Jason Witten, tight end, Las Vegas Raiders
It was pretty crazy watching Witten, 38, come back last year after taking a year off. He didn’t miss a beat. If anything, the year off did Witten some good. He ended up catching 63 passes for 529 yards and four touchdowns in his final season with the Dallas Cowboys. He also reminded everyone just what kind of magic he has in his hands.
Now with the Raiders, Witten should feast. He’s the second tight end on the roster, with Darren Waller being the top guy. Henry Ruggs III, Tyrell Williams and the rest of Las Vegas’ talent will provide plenty of one-on-one opportunities for Witten to make big plays.
Andrew Whitworth, left tackle, Los Angeles Rams
Old reliable, Whitworth continues to provide some of the best blind-side protection in the industry at the age of 38.
Last season, Whitworth started all 16 games on the left side of the line for the Rams. He’s been remarkably healthy over the course of his 14-season career starting 211 games since 2006. The Rams rewarded this grizzled vet with a three-year contract this spring.
Tom Brady, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Did you know that Tom Brady is currently the oldest non-kicker hanging around in the NFL these days? He’s going to turn 43 years old on August 3. Many wonder if he’ll finally start to act his age and suffer the same fate as every other long-time NFL quarterback.
Don’t hold your breath. Brady now enters a situation in Tampa where he’s got the most loaded offensive roster around him since he entered the NFL way back in 2000. The Buccaneers are absolutely loaded with talent, and Brady should have one of his finest seasons if his body holds up.
Given what we’ve seen from the future Hall of Famer this offseason, that shouldn’t be a problem.