The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

The Four Horsemen of Longevity

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Should Brett Lorenzo Favre come out of retirement, yet again, and continue throwing past October 10th, he will join the fairly small fraternity of Hall of Famers who kept playing into their fourth decade. Of them very few played well or very long after the big 4-0. Most, like Jim Conzelman, Len Dawson, Sonny Jurgensen, Bruce Matthews, Jim Thorpe, Y.A. Tittle, Johnny Unitas, Jackie Slater and Bruce Smith hardly made it to their 41st birthdays and cannot be considered in this debate.

However, there are four position players and two kickers who truly are worthy of the title ageless. Among the kickers, Morton Andersen and Jan Stenerud grew better with time. Gary Anderson might make the list too, but he always seemed a step below these two. Outside of special teams, my top four is as follows:

4) Lou Groza - Yes he was a kicker but he was also a tackle who battled in the trenches from the Second World War through the Vietnam War. Groza was so good they changed the rule book because of him and so versatile he made the Pro Bowl nine times as kicker and six times as a blocker.

3) Jerry Rice - The greatest wide receiver of all time hardly lost a step after 40. In fact, after career lows in his late thirties, Rice's earlier 40's saw a renaissance after Oakland signed him. In 2002, he caught 92 passes for 1,211 yards and 7 touchdowns, en route to his 13th Pro Bowl.

2) Warren Moon - One of the most prolific quarterbacks ever and often overlooked for reasons I cannot fathom. Moon had one of his best seasons ever at 41 with the Seattle Seahawks putting up 3,678 yards and 25 touchdowns. He didn't retire until three years later.

1) George Blanda - Hardly a no brainer for my top spot, the Fossil transcended time and space on the football field. Blanda, a kicker and quarterback, may not have put up exemplary numbers, but his longevity is second to no one. To put it simply, when he began playing Harry Truman was president. When he retired Gerry Ford was president -- take that Tom Watson.

By Emil Steiner  |  July 20, 2009; 1:16 PM ET  | Category:  Emil Steiner , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Jerry Rice Hands Down | Next: Moon Most Underrated

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