Longest NFL football careers
Football players with long careers typically do not encounter many tackles.Football is not a sport in which many players have long careers. The constant tackling, pounding and physical exertion wears down a body after a short time. Injuries, pain and plain old exhaustion cause even the toughest players to bow out gracefully.
For this reason, it is something special when a football player stays in the league for more than a few years. It seems that if a professional athlete remains active in football for more than five years, he becomes an instant icon. Many fans show their appreciation for this feat by wearing team shirts and jerseys that celebrate the player's name and career.
The athletes who have the longest NFL football careers tend to be players who don't receive much contact, such as punters and kickers. According to an updated study conducted by the National Football League Players Association, these heavy-legged athletes tend to stay in the league for about 4.87 years. While quarterbacks do take some pretty hefty hits, they typically remain active for 4.44 years.
Players with the shortest careers are the men who take the most hits. Wide receivers remain active in the NFL for 2.81 years, while cornerbacks stay 2.94. The position that takes the most hits and consequently, has the shortest duration in the league, is the running back, who stays in about 2.57 years.
The average length of time a player stays in the NFL is typically about 3.3 years. Compared to other sports, such as baseball, basketball and golf, this number is meager, perhaps showing just how much physical exertion -- and physical abuse -- plays a part in the length of a football career.
Players who have the longest NFL football careers are typically not household names. They are not flashy or outspoken. They don't have million-dollar endorsement deals. They are simply men who loved the game and devoted their lives to it, sometimes at the sake of their bodies. True fans of the sport often seek out memorabilia that pays tribute to outstanding football players.
According to the National Football League, the players with the longest football careers are George Blanda, Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson. George Blanda began his career in 1949 with the Chicago Bears, then played with the Baltimore Colts from 1950 to1959. He played for Houston from 1960 to 1966, then finally moved on to the Oakland Raiders in 1967, where he stayed until he retired in 1975. George Blanda played in the NFL for 26 years.
Morten Andersen, with 25 years of service in the NFL under his belt, began his career in 1982 and retired in 2007. During this time, he played for New Orleans, Atlanta, Kansas City, Minnesota and the New York Giants.
Gary Anderson rounds out the pack with 23 years of active play in the NFL. Also beginning his career in 1982, Anderson graced the teams from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Fransisco, Minnesota and Tennessee.
While these men may not have shoes or sports drinks named after them, they certainly had what it took to remain active in such a competitive league and sport for so long. In a day when teams are always looking for the bigger and better next thing, staying in the league for over twenty years is certainly an accomplishment.
Players who have the longest NFL football careers know a thing or two about integrity, devotion and practice. It is refreshing to know that love of the sport is what kept these men active for so long, not the glitz and fame that many of today's players love so much.
National Football League: Record and Fact Book
The New York Times: Pro Football--Inside the NFL--Draft is Start, but End is Usually Near