Best Quarterbacks Over 40 In NFL History
In nearly 100 years of pro football, only three quarterbacks have started at least 10 games in a season after turning 40 — Brett Favre, Warren Moon, and Vinny Testaverde. And only once in NFL history has a quarterback in his fifth decade led a team to the playoffs. With Tom Brady entering this 2017 season Over the Hill, we take a look at all 17 QBs who ever saw the field as a 40+ year old. Plenty of names you know, and some you don’t! We’ll rank them in order of success and statistics.
17. Joe Ferguson
1990 Indianapolis Colts
1990 Stats: 2/8. 21 yards. 0 TDs. 2 INTs.
16. Jim Hart
1984 Washington Redskins
1984 Stats: 3/7. 26 yards. 0 TDs. 0 INTs.
15. Dave Krieg
1998 Tennessee Oilers
1998 Stats: 12/21. 199 yards. 0 TDs. 0 INTs.
14. Brad Johnson
2008 Dallas Cowboys
2008 Stats: 41/78. 427 yards. 2 TDs. 5 INTs.
13. Johnny Unitas
1973 San Diego Chargers
1973 Stats: 34/76. 471 yards. 3 TDs. 7 INTs.
12. Steve DeBerg
1998 Atlanta Falcons
Stats: 30/59. 369 yards. 3 TDs. 1 INT.
11. Charlie Conerly
1961 New York Giants
1961 Stats: 44/106. 634 yards. 7 TDs. 8 INT.
10. Mark Brunell
2010-2011 New York Jets
2010 Stats: 7/13. 117 yards. 2 TDs. 1 INT.
2011 Stats: 30/59. 369 yards. 3 TDs. 1 INT.
Best known for his time in Jacksonville, and leading an expansion franchise into the playoffs in just their second year, Mark Brunell saw limited action for the Jets in his two years as Team Grandpa.
9. Earl Morrall
1974-76 Miami Dolphins
1974 Stats: 17/27. 301 yards. 2 TDs. 3 INTs.
1975 Stats: 26/43. 273 yards. 3 TDs. 2 INTs.
1976 Stats: 10/26. 184 yards. 1 TD. 1 INT.
Just two years prior to his 40-year-old campaign, Earl Morrall took over the helm for an injured Bob Griese in game five of the season. He would start the next 11 games en route to the only perfect season in NFL history. Once he was Over the Hill, Morrall didn’t get much in the way of success. That’s okay, I’d hang my hat on that undefeated season too.
8. Len Dawson
1975 Kansas City Chiefs
1975 Stats: 93/140. 1095 yards. 5 TDs. 4 INTs.
Super Bowl IV was the best chance for my Minnesota Vikings to win. Heavily favored, the Vikings went up against an AFL-MVP Len Dawson-led Kansas City Chiefs. Wouldn’t you know it, the Chiefs won. That was in 1970, Dawson didn’t have quite the same success in his 40+ season.
7. Vince Evans
1995 Oakland Raiders
1995 Stats: 100/175. 1236 yards. 6 TDs. 8 INTs.
In his first start in relief of an injured Jeff Hostetler, Vince Evans was the oldest active player in the NFL. Helping the Raiders move from Los Angeles to Oakland as a mobile quarterback is what Evans is best known for. He is lesser known for his glory days in the USFL, playing for the Chicago Blitz and the Denver Gold.
6. Doug Flutie
2002-2004 San Diego Chargers
2005 New England Patriots
2002 Stats: 3/11. 64 yards. 0 TDs. 0 INT.
2003 Stats: 91/167. 1097 yards. 9 TDs. 4 INTs.
2004 Stats: 20/38. 276 yards. 1 TD. 0 INT.
2005 Stats: 5/10. 29 yards. 0 TDs. 0 INT.
The 1984 Heisman winner is best known for one of the most memorable plays in college football history. To bookend his football career, his final play in the NFL came on a drop kick (a rare feat in the NFL). The first successful attempt since 1941 came against a Nick Saban coached Miami Dolphins team as Tom Brady rested before the playoffs. Flutie Flakes and drop kicks.
5. Matt Hasselbeck
2015 Indianapolis Colts
2015 Stats: 156/256. 1690 yards. 9 TDs. 5 INT.
Signed as added insurance and a mentor to new face of the franchise Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck got a little more than that. In his third season with the Colts, Hasselbeck got his first eight starts (of his Colts career) in his final NFL season. Luck went down with an injury, a couple times, and Hasselbeck compiled a 5-3 record as a starter. The Colts would put together an 8-8 season, and miss out on the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, but, not because of Hasselbeck’s play. He didn’t play at a Pro Bowl level but he wasn’t the worst part of the team.
4. Sonny Jurgensen
1974 Washington Redskins
1974 Stats: 107/167. 1185 yards. 11 TDs. 5 INTs.
Vince Lombardi was once quoted as saying, “If we would have had Sonny Jurgensen in Green Bay, we’d never had lost a game.” That’s pretty high praise coming from someone who has the Super Bowl Trophy named after him. In his 40+ season, Sonny won an NFL passing title, even though he was a part of a two quarterback system in Washington with Billy Kilmer. Clearly this was a different age of passing in the league but that is still crazy to read.
3. Vinny Testaverde
2003, 2005 New York Jets
2004 Dallas Cowboys
2006 New England Patriots
2007 Carolina Panthers
2003 Stats: 123/198. 1385 yards. 7 TDs. 2 INTs.
2004 Stats: 297/495. 3532 yards. 17 TDs. 20 INTs.
2005 Stats: 60/106. 777 yards. 1 TD. 6 INTs.
2006 Stats: 2/3. 29 yards. 1 TD. 0 INTs.
2007 Stats: 94/172. 952 yards. 5 TDs. 6 INTs.
Totals: 608/1,070. 7,148 yards. 44 TDs. 34 INTs.
Vinny Testaverde is only ahead of Jurgensen because of longevity. The 1986 Heisman Trophy winner played in the NFL until he was 44, and nearly threw for 1,000 yards in that final season. That’s pretty darn impressive. His 2004 season with the Cowboys was, statistically speaking, the third best of all time. When I talk about old QB’s, Testaverde might be the first name to come to my lips. He basically is the Dikembe Mutumbo joke (of playing until he’s 90) of the NFL.
2. Warren Moon
1996 Minnesota Vikings
1997-98 Seattle Seahawks
1999-2000 Kansas City Chiefs
1996 Stats: 134/247. 1610 yards. 7 TDs. 9 INTs.
1997 Stats: 313/528. 3678 yards. 25 TDs. 16 INTs.
1998 Stats: 145/258. 1632 yards. 11 TDs. 8 INTs.
1999 Stats: 1/3. 20 yards. 0 TDs. 0 INTs.
2000 Stats: 15/34. 208 yards. 1 TD. 1 INT.
Feels weird to see Warren Moon as #2 and not #1, but he DID have three very successful seasons after turning 40 years old. His final two seasons in the league saw him play very minimally with the Kansas City Chiefs. Moon became a great when he was passed up by the NFL, and became legendary in the CFL, leading the Edmonton Eskimos to five straight Grey Cup victories from 1978-82. Moon also became the first professional QB to pass for 5,000 yards in 1982, and did so at exactly 5,000, only to get to 5,648 in his final CFL season. He was then picked up by the Houston Oilers and set and Oilers passing yards record in his first season with them. He blew through all those records en route to becoming an NFL great as well as a CFL great. In his 40+ year old seasons, he was the starter in Minnesota before getting injured and making way for Brad Johnson (who also would later get on this list). Signed by the Seahawks, Moon had a very successful 1997 season and half of 1998 before he would ultimately wind down. Combining all his professional football numbers, Moon can hardly be touched.
1. Brett Favre
2009-10 Minnesota Vikings
2009 Stats: 363/531. 4202 yards. 33 TDs. 7 INTs.
2010 Stats: 217/358. 2509 yards. 11 TDs. 19 INTs
This is not a homer pick at all. I actually despise Brett Favre. But, he did have perhaps the most successful statistical season in his career when he was 40 in his first year with the Vikings. 4,202 yards with 33 TDs and only 7 INTs. That’s the first time in his career that he didn’t throw double digit interceptions (except for this first year in the league when he had only four attempts and threw two INTs for the Falcons). Most everyone knows Favre for his days in Green Bay, when he became the gunslinger legend, and started a consecutive 297 regular season games (321 if you include playoffs) before that finally came to an end in 2010 with the Vikings. That is a record that will never get touched, Eli Manning (199 regular, 211 with playoffs) and Philip Rivers (176 regular, 185 with playoffs) are the closest current players on the list. He also holds records for most most completions (6,300), most pass attempts (10,169), most pass interceptions (336), most starts (298), and most wins (186, tied with Peyton Manning). His biggest win over 40 came in the NFC Divisional Round in January of 2010 with the Vikings when he was 40 years and 99 days old, trouncing the Dallas Cowboys 34-3. Not too shabby for an old man.
1967-75 Oakland Raiders
Stats: Not a QB
George Blanda played much of his career as both a QB and a place kicker. Once he hit the 40-year plateau, he was listed on the roster strictly as a K. That’s not to say he didn’t play QB in those seasons, in fact, he played nine seasons once he turned 40, and even started one game as a QB in those nine seasons. He just wasn’t officially a QB while with the Raiders.
1999 Oakland Raiders
1999 Stats: DNP. He was technically on the roster for the 1999 Oakland Raiders, but, he never saw the field of play.