Youth will be served -- at Super Bowl time -- often enough. Age hardly ever is. Not lately. Not when it comes to quarterbacks. With Brett Favre sniffing around the re-entry gate again, the question arises: How plausible is it for a quarterback approaching his 40th birthday to win a Super Bowl?
Youth will be served -- at Super Bowl time -- often enough. Age hardly ever is. Not lately. Not when it comes to quarterbacks.
With Brett Favre sniffing around the re-entry gate again, the question arises: How plausible is it for a quarterback approaching his 40th birthday to win a Super Bowl?
Here are the ages of the last 10 quarterbacks to celebrate in a confetti shower:
- Kurt Warner was 28 when he came out of the blue with the 1999 Rams.
- Trent Dilfer was 28 when he lucked onto a Baltimore team that could have won Super Bowl XXXV with Bubby Brister.
- The Kid weighed in next -- and he wouldn’t get off the scale. Tom Brady was 24, 26 and 27 when he won his three Super Bowls with the Patriots.
- Brad Johnson slipped in a Super Bowl title during Brady’s run. He was 34 with Tampa Bay.
- Ben Roethlisberger won his first Super Bowl when he was 23, his second three months ago at age 26.
- The 2006 season ended with Peyton Manning breaking through with the Colts at age 29.
- Eli Manning won it all with the Giants the next season at 27.
So, the kids have been all right.
Meanwhile, in those same 10 seasons, the losing Super Bowl QBs have been:
- 1999: Tennessee’s Steve McNair, 26 at the time.
- 2000: The Giants’ Kerry Collins, 28.
- 2001: The Rams’ Warner, 30.
- 2002: Oakland’s Rich Gannon, 37.
- 2003: Carolina’s Jake Delhomme, 29.
- 2004: Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb, 28.
- 2005: Seattle’s Matt Hasselback, 30.
- 2006: Chicago’s Rex Grossman, 26.
- 2007: The Patriots’ Brady, 30.
- 2008: Warner, this time with the Cardinals at 37.
Favre, for what it’s worth, is three years older than the oldest quarterback to have played in the last 10 Super Bowls. He’s two years older than John Elway was when he quarterbacked the 1998 Broncos to a Super Bowl win.
Taking the discussion to one more level, here are the ages of the last 10 quarterbacks to reach a conference title game and lose:
- 1999: Shaun King, Bucs, 22; Mark Brunell, Jaguars, 29.
- 2000: Daunte Culpepper, Vikings, 23; Gannon, Raiders, 35.
- 2001: McNabb, Eagles, 25; Kordell Stewart, Steelers, 29.
- 2002: McNabb, Eagles, 26. McNair, Titans, 29.
- 2003: McNabb, Eagles, 27; Peyton Manning, Colts, 27.
- 2004: Michael Vick, Falcons, 24; Roethlisberger, Steelers, 22.
- 2005: Delhomme, Panthers, 31; Jake Plummer, Broncos, 31.
- 2006: Drew Brees, Saints, 28; Brady, Patriots, 29.
- 2007: Favre, Packers, 38; Philip Rivers, Chargers, 26.
- 2008: McNabb, Eagles, 32; Joe Flacco, Ravens, 23.
This study accounts for 40 different quarterback starts. In 29 instances, the quarterback was younger than 30. Five times, the QB was 30 or 31. Five times, the passer was in the 32-37 age group.
Once, the quarterback was 38. For what it’s worth, that was Favre.
Coming of age?
Some of the quarterbacks at what appears to be a magic age for NFL signal-callers:
- Carson Palmer, Bengals, turned 29 in December.
- Matt Schaub, Texans, turns 28 in June.
- Matt Cassel, Chiefs, turns 27 May 17.
- Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, turned 27 in March.
- Philip Rivers, Chargers, turns 28 in December.
- Tony Romo, Cowboys, turned 29 in April.
- Eli Manning, Giants, turned 28 in January.
- Luke McCown, Bucs, turns 28 in July.
- Jason Campbell, Redskins, turns 28 in December.
Average ages of quarterbacks who:
- Won the last 10 Super Bowls: 27.2.
- Lost the last 10 Super Bowls: 31.0.
- Lost the last 10 NFC title games: 27.6
- Lost the last 10 AFC title games: 28.0
The draft factor
Where this decade’s starting Super Bowl quarterbacks were drafted:
- No. 1 overall: Eli Manning, Peyton Manning
- No. 2 overall: Donovan McNabb
- No. 3 overall: Steve McNair
- No. 5 overall: Kerry Collins
- No. 6 overall: Trent Dilfer
- No. 11 overall: Ben Roethlisberger
- No. 22 overall: Rex Grossman
- Round 6: Tom Brady
- Round 7: Rich Gannon, Matt Hasselback
- Round 14: Brad Johnson
- Undrafted: Jake Delhomme, Kurt Warner
Only Roethlisberger and Brady have multiple Super Bowl appearances.