Facebook Pixel
PFN Iconic

Ranking the Best Post-Age-40 Seasons in NFL History

Age is nothing but a number for some NFL legends. Who posted the best post-age-40 seasons in league history? Pro Football Network is counting down the top 10.

“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

While that apocryphal quote is attributed to former MLB pitcher Satchel Paige, it also applies to the NFL.

Football takes a heavier toll on players’ bodies than any other sport, so aging gracefully isn’t always an option. Still, some NFL players were able to hang longer than anyone expected while maintaining excellent production.

What are the best post-age-40 seasons in NFL history? Pro Football Network is counting down the top 10.

Top Post-Age-40 Seasons in NFL History

10) George Blanda, 1970

Age: 43

Although he’d been a combination quarterback and placekicker for most of his career, George Blanda spent most of his time on special teams after joining the Oakland Raiders in 1967. However, Blanda was asked to go under center during an indelible five-game stretch during the 1970 campaign.

In Week 6, Blanda replaced injured Raiders QB Daryle Lamonica, leading Oakland to a 31-14 win while throwing three touchdowns. He hit a game-winning field goal in Week 7; in Week 8, Blanda led a game-tying drive and kicked a game-winning FG.

He took over for the injured Lamonica and won another game in Week 9 before hitting a field goal as time expired to beat the San Diego Chargers in Week 10. In the AFC title game, Blanda’s Raiders eventually lost to the Baltimore Colts, but he scored all 18 of Oakland’s points. Blanda finished second in league MVP voting to San Francisco 49ers QB John Brodie.

9) Warren Moon, 1997

Age: 40

Warren Moon had already solidified his Hall of Fame entry when he signed with the Seattle Seahawks, but the 40-year-old signal-caller decided to add another outstanding campaign to his résumé.

Making 14 starts for the Seahawks, Moon led the NFL in passing yards per game (245.2) while earning the ninth and final Pro Bowl nod of his career. Moon ranked third in passing first downs (178), fifth in passing yards (3,678) and TDs (25), seventh in completion rate (59.3%), and ninth in adjusted net yards per attempt (5.85).

With Moon at the helm, Seattle’s offense ranked third in yards and ninth in scoring. However, the Seahawks finished just 8-8, thanks to the 22nd-ranked scoring defense.

8) Drew Brees, 2019

Age: 40

Drew Brees missed five complete games and most of another after suffering a torn right thumb ligament in Week 2 of the 2019 season. Otherwise, his age-40 performance for the New Orleans Saints would rank much higher on our list.

Brees returned with a vengeance in Week 8, tossing three touchdown passes in three of his first four starts back. He threw five more in an epic Week 14 loss to the 49ers before setting a new NFL single-game completion rate record in Week 15 after connecting on 29 of 30 attempts (96.67%) in a win against the Indianapolis Colts.

Brees led the league in completion rate (74.3%) for the third straight season in 2019. He also paced the NFL in sack rate (3.1%) while earning the 13th Pro Bowl berth of his career. Brees’ Saints eventually lost to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Wild Card Round.

7) Tom Brady, 2018

Age: 41

You might be guessing this is the first of several Tom Brady appearances on this list — and you’d be correct.

The poster child for aging gracefully as a professional football player, Brady’s post-age-40 seasons are nearly a mini Hall of Fame career unto themselves.

2018 was Brady’s penultimate season with the New England Patriots and his last Super Bowl campaign with the club that drafted him. He guided the Pats to an 11-5 regular-season record before scoring 78 combined points in New England’s playoff wins against the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs.

The Patriots’ Super Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams was a Bill Belichick defensive masterpiece, but Brady was hardly along for the ride in 2018.

6) Andrew Whitworth, 2021

Age: 40

Andrew Whitworth didn’t turn 40 until December 2021, so we might be cheating a bit here. But Whitworth was exceptional for the Super Bowl-winning Rams that season, starting 15 games on Matthew Stafford’s blindside while finishing as PFF’s top-graded offensive tackle.

Even if we only consider what Whitworth did after his actual 40th birthday on Dec. 12, he’s still worthy of being on our list. He made four regular-season starts and three playoff starts, collected a Lombardi Trophy, and won the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

5) Tom Brady, 2020

Age: 43

Anyone who thought Brady would regress upon signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 was sorely mistaken. Even at age 43, Brady was outstanding while working inside Bruce Arians’ offense, ranking second in the NFL in touchdown passes (30) and third in passing yards (4,633).

He truly found his groove during the second half of the season after huddling with Arians to craft a revised offensive structure that included Brady’s preferences. From Week 10 on, Brady averaged 320 yards per game while tossing 20 touchdowns against just five interceptions.

While Belichick’s Patriots flailed in their first season without Brady, the GOAT stormed through the playoffs, taking down Washington, the Saints, and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC playoffs before dominating Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

4) Jerry Rice, 2002

Age: 40

Jerry Rice isn’t just the only wide receiver in NFL history to record a 1,000-yard season after the age of 40 — he’s the only wide receiver to post any production after his 40th birthday.

Charlie Joiner (1986) and Joey Galloway (2001) are the only non-Rice WRs with statistics in their age-39 campaigns. Rice, meanwhile, put up an absurd 92-1,211-7 line for the Raiders at age 40, earning a second-team All-Pro nod and a WR-record 13th Pro Bowl berth in the process.

And Rice still wasn’t done. In 2003, at age 41, he managed almost 900 yards for Oakland, then went for 429 yards and three touchdowns while splitting his time between the Raiders and Seahawks in 2004, his final NFL season.

3) Brett Favre, 2009

Age: 40

Brett Favre’s 2009 campaign with the Vikings will likely permanently be scarred by his infamous fourth-quarter interception in Minnesota’s eventual NFC Championship Game loss to the Saints.

However, it’s worth remembering how effective Favre was in his first season in purple. He looked reborn at age 40, passing for more than 4,200 yards while ranking second in touchdown rate. Perhaps more noticeably, the once-turnover-prone Favre threw just seven picks and led the NFL in interception rate (1.3%).

While Favre’s career came to a screeching halt the following season, 2009 was a year to remember. The eventual Hall of Famer grabbed the final Pro Bowl nod of his career and received votes for league MVP and Comeback Player of the Year.

2) Tom Brady, 2021

Age: 44

Playing in the NFL at age 44 is essentially uncharted territory for any non-kicker not named Brady or Blanda.

Brady just didn’t survive as he reached middle age — he thrived. Brady set a new record with 485 completions (a record he’d subsequently reset in 2022) and led the league with 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns.

He finished second in QBR and ranked third in EPA per dropback, trailing only Aaron Rodgers (the eventual MVP winner) and Mahomes. In the playoffs, Brady rallied the Bucs from a 24-point Divisional Round deficit against the Rams but lost to the eventual Super Bowl champs on a last-second field goal.

1) Tom Brady, 2017

Age: 40

Brady had been on the fringes of the MVP conversation from 2013 to 2016, receiving votes in all four seasons and finishing second twice. The Patriots had won two Super Bowl titles during that stretch, but Brady was light on personal accolades.

That changed in 2017. Brady earned MVP and first-team All-Pro honors after guiding New England to a 13-3 record and the AFC’s No. 1 seed. He paced the NFL in passing yards (4,577), threw 32 touchdowns against only eight picks, and finished first in EPA per dropback and passing success rate.

Brady didn’t win the Lombardi after the 2017 campaign but still posted one of the best passing performances in Super Bowl history, completing 28 of 48 attempts for an NFL playoff-record 505 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.