Hardly a day goes by without a pundit trotting out the familiar line that NFL stands for "not for long." And on the whole, it's a truism. No professional sport churns and burns its players like the most popular one. But there exceptions to every rule and plenty of players have continued to put the pads on into their forties, including some notable recent quarterbacks who both hung around forever and were quite effective at their relatively advanced age. Tom Brady famously wanted to play until 50 and he'll need to be retired a few more years until we're convinced he doesn't have a comeback season in him. If he had, he would have topped the list of oldest players in NFL history. As it stands, here's how that looks.
Warren Moon, 44
Moon had a 17-year NFL career after establishing himself a star in the CFL, spearheading the run-and-shoot offense of the Houston Oilers. A nine-time Pro Bowler, Moon is 16th all-time in passing touchdowns — and would be much higher had he played in the States the entire time. He was AP Offensive Player of the Year in 1990 and finished top-six in MVP voting three times.
Steve DeBerg, 44
DeBerg spread his 20-year career over four different teams. In his second pro season with the San Francisco 49ers, he led the NFL in completions. He had his best season in 1990 with the Kansas City Chiefs when he threw 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
John Nesser, 45
Alright, apologies if any of Nesser's descendants are reading this but here's the extent of what I can tell you about him. He suited up for two games in 1921 for the Columbus Panhandles. He was 5-foot-11 and weighed 195 pounds, which is quite small for an offensive guard/tackle but the times they were different.
Bobby Marshall, 45
John Madden voice: Now he's a guy who played his first pro game at age 40 in 1920 for the Rock Island Independents, took five years off, then returned to the Duluth Kelleys to share some reps at defensive end.
Gary Anderson, 45
This South African placekicker spent 23 years in the show with five different teams and rocked a classic single-bar facemask while excelling in some of the biggest moments. The four-time Pro Bowler ranks third in league history in field goals made, games and points scored.
Tom Brady, 45
Brady is either the greatest quarterback in football history or the winningest. Some say both. A seven-time Super Bowl champ, he just returned to New England year after year no less for the wear thanks to some intriguing fitness ideas. Then, for reasons the haven't aged well, the Pats let him go to Tampa Bay and win another one. Again, he may be back. He may always be back.
Ben Agajanian, 45
All-time bizarre reference page here as he visited nine clubs during a 13-year career with some breaks in-between. Led the league with 15 field goals in 1947 while booting for the Los Angeles Dons.
John Carney, 46
Despite going undrafted, John Carney had a decorated career and became a Super Bowl champion. He also earned two Pro Bowl appearances and two All-Pro selections. He played for seven teams before retiring with the New Orleans Saints in 2010. Carney would go on to finish as the NFL’s fifth all-time leading scorer with 2,062 points.
Morten Andersen, 47
From Denmark to Michigan State to the NFL, Anderson's left foot was money. All told he earned seven Pro Bowl nods and is arguably the most effective and decorated kicker in the history of the game.
George Blanda, 48
A Hall of Famer, Blanda played his first game in 1949 and his last in 1975.