A career as a professional football player does not last forever. It is one of the most grueling sports in existence. The amount of abuse one puts their body through to play through an entire season is unparalleled. Because of this, it is very rare to see somebody dressing up with a pro football team over the age of 40.
When a young man enters the NFL draft in his early twenties, he can pretty much expect to retire long before his 40th birthday. Most players who get drafted will only play four to six years in the NFL. Some will not even make it long enough to play a single year in the league. When we see someone over 30 years old take the field, we automatically assume their career is coming to an end shortly.
There is, however, a list of players who made it longer than most. These are known as the NFL’s 40 and Over Club. The club only has 55 members. Many of these players were placekickers. However, the list does include some of the finest talents to ever grace the gridiron. This list ranks the greatest of them all. It is based on how impressive they were over the entire course of their careers. Because of this, all but one of the players listed are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The lone member who is not in the Hall will be soon, though.
10 Jackie Slater - OT - Retired at 41
9 Len Dawson - QB - Retired at 40
8 Warren Moon - QB - Retired at 44
7 George Blanda - QB - Retired at 48
6 Bruce Matthews - OL - Retired at 40
5 Jim Thorpe - RB - Retired at 40
4 Bruce Smith - DE - Retired at 40
3 Brett Favre - QB - Retired at 41
2 Johnny Unitas - QB - Retired at 41
1 Jerry Rice - WR - Retired at 42
Jerry Rice’s nickname is the G.O.A.T. It stands for the Greatest of All Time. Rice was a 13-time Pro Bowler. He won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers and was name the MVP of Super Bowl XXIII. He holds nearly every receiving record for both the regular season and post season and was named a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All Time Team in 1994, 11 years before he officially retired from professional football. He finally ended his illustrious career at 42 years old. Rice was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010. Since his retirement, Jerry Rice has been called the greatest player in football history by the NFL itself.
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