The National Football League (NFL) has witnessed the careers of many legendary players who have made a lasting impact on the sport. These players have displayed exceptional skill, determination, and longevity, leaving their mark in the history of the game.
Here are the top 10 longest NFL careers of all time, showcasing their remarkable contributions and lasting legacies:
- Brett Favre
- Tom Brady
- George Blanda
- Jerry Rice
- Bruce Matthews
- Morten Andersen
- Darrell Green
- Gary Anderson
- Jeff Feagles
- Peyton Manning
These players have defied the odds and defied Father Time, staying in the game for an incredibly long time and achieving great success throughout their careers. Each player on this list has showcased remarkable skills, professionalism, and a dedication to the sport that allowed them to excel on the field for an extended period.
From legendary quarterbacks to exceptional kickers, these players have left an indelible mark on the game and continue to inspire future generations of athletes.
1. Brett Favre
Brett Favre had a remarkable career in the NFL. He played as a quarterback for various teams, including the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and Minnesota Vikings.
Favre’s achievements and statistics speak for themselves.
- With a total of 302 games played, Brett Favre’s astounding 299 consecutive starts as an NFL quarterback stands as an unparalleled record, highlighting his exceptional endurance and unwavering performance on the field.
- Favre threw for a total of 71,838 passing yards throughout his career, demonstrating his exceptional throwing ability and precision.
- He also threw an impressive 508 touchdown passes, solidifying his reputation as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
- Favre was a three-time NFL MVP, proving his unparalleled talent and impact on the game.
- He led the Green Bay Packers to victory in Super Bowl XXXI, further cementing his legacy as a champion.
- Throughout his career, Favre was selected to the Pro Bowl 11 times, highlighting his exceptional skill and recognition among his peers.
- Favre’s remarkable consistency enabled him to guide his teams to the playoffs 13 times, highlighting his exceptional leadership and proficiency in high-pressure scenarios throughout his impressive 20-season career.
Brett Favre’s impact on the NFL is undeniable. His record-breaking career, numerous accolades, and memorable performances make him one of the greatest players to have ever graced the league.
2. Tom Brady
Tom Brady’s famous NFL journey began in 2000 and spanned over two decades. Initially, he played for the New England Patriots and later joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Here are some of his significant milestones.
- Brady’s career stretched from 2000-2022, making him one of the NFL’s most enduring players.
- He clinched 7 Super Bowl titles, underscoring his position as one of the league’s most victorious players.
- Brady stands as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards with 89,214 and touchdown passes totaling 649.
- He was honored as the league MVP three times.
- Over his career, he was selected for the Pro Bowl 15 times, a record in itself.
- His achievements also include five Super Bowl MVP Awards.
- In the postseason, Brady leads in several categories, including Super Bowl appearances (10), Super Bowl wins (7), and passing touchdowns (88).
Tom Brady’s influence on the NFL is monumental. His unparalleled achievements and dedication to the sport solidify his status as one of the league’s most iconic players.
3. George Blanda
George Blanda had an amazing career in the NFL that lasted a really long time. He started playing in 1949 with the Chicago Bears and played for a whopping 26 seasons!
On top of that, he also played for the Houston Oilers and Oakland Raiders. George Blanda’s career shows how he was able to stick around in the league for many years and play for different teams.
- Blanda played professional football for a record 26 seasons, longer than any other player.
- He was not only a quarterback but also a placekicker, showcasing his versatility.
- Blanda holds the record for the most extra points made and attempted.
- Over his career, he passed for 236 touchdowns and scored an astounding 2,002 points.
- In 1970, at age 43, he provided the Oakland Raiders with four wins and one tie in a five-game period with last-second touchdown passes or field goals.
- Blanda was named to the Pro Bowl four times (1962, 1963, 1964, 1968).
- He was recognized as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1970.
- Blanda became the oldest quarterback to play in a title game in 1970.
- He led the Oilers to the first two AFL titles and won AFL Player of the Year honors in 1961.
- Blanda retired just a month shy of his 49th birthday, marking him as one of the oldest players in NFL history.
George Blanda’s legacy in the NFL is unparalleled. His records, versatility, and dedication to the game have solidified his place as one of the all-time greats in football history.
4. Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice’s long NFL career is a testament to dedication, skill, and unparalleled talent. Playing as a wide receiver, he represented teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, and Seattle Seahawks over a span of 20 years.
Here are some of Jerry Rice’s standout achievements.
- Over his career, Rice played a total of 303 games, showcasing his durability and commitment to the sport.
- He set an unmatched record with 1,549 receptions, highlighting his reliability and skill as a receiver.
- Rice accumulated a staggering 22,895 receiving yards throughout his career, a testament to his consistency and playmaking ability.
- He also scored an impressive 197 receiving touchdowns, further solidifying his reputation as one of the game’s best.
- Rice was named to the Pro Bowl 13 times, reflecting his exceptional skill and the respect he garnered among his peers.
- He was a key player in the San Francisco 49ers’ Super Bowl victories in 1988, 1989, and 1994.
- Rice was named Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XXIII, showcasing his ability to perform at the highest level in the most crucial games.
- His work ethic was legendary, with rigorous off-season training routines that set him apart from his peers.
Jerry Rice’s influence on the NFL and the position of wide receiver is profound. With a career filled with records, accolades, and memorable moments, he remains an inspiration for aspiring football players and is often regarded as the greatest wide receiver in NFL history.
5. Bruce Matthews
Bruce Matthews is celebrated as one of the most versatile and enduring players in NFL history. Over his career, he played for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise, showcasing his adaptability by excelling in multiple positions along the offensive line.
- Matthews’ NFL journey spanned an impressive 19 seasons, a testament to his durability and commitment to the game.
- He played a staggering 296 games, underscoring his consistency and resilience on the field.
- Demonstrating his versatility, Matthews played every position on the offensive line, from center to guard to tackle, and excelled in each role.
- He was selected to the Pro Bowl 14 times, a reflection of his exceptional skill and the high regard in which he was held by his peers and competitors.
- Matthews was a key figure in the Oilers/Titans’ offensive schemes, often paving the way for significant offensive plays with his blocking prowess.
- His dedication to the sport and his team saw him named First-Team All-Pro nine times, further highlighting his dominance in the league.
- Matthews was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007, a fitting recognition for his contributions to the game.
Bruce Matthews is truly remarkable in the NFL. He is incredibly good at playing different positions, which is very impressive.
He has been playing for a very long time and has set a very high standard for other offensive linemen in the league. Matthews’ career has been filled with greatness and he has always been able to adjust to new situations.
Because of this, he continues to inspire both players and fans. He is considered to be one of the best offensive linemen to have ever played in the NFL.
6. Morten Andersen
Morten Andersen’s NFL journey is a story of unparalleled dedication and skill. As a kicker, he made significant contributions to several teams over an incredible 25-season career.
Here’s a closer look at his achievements:
- Andersen’s career spanned from 1982 to 2007, marking one of the longest tenures in NFL history.
- He played for five teams: New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, and New York Giants, showcasing his adaptability and consistent demand in the league.
- Andersen’s precision and reliability are evident in his record as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, accumulating over 2,500 points.
- He successfully converted 565 of his 709 field goal attempts and 849 of his 859 extra-point attempts.
- Andersen’s prowess earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl seven times, reflecting his consistent excellence.
- In 2017, his outstanding contributions were recognized with an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Morten Andersen is a standout in NFL history. His dedication and skill made him one of the league’s top kickers.
7. Darrell Green
Darrell Green’s time in the NFL is an impressive display of commitment and talent. He played only for the Washington Redskins and excelled as a cornerback for an impressive 20 years.
- Darrell Green played a total of 20 seasons, all with the Washington Redskins, marking a significant commitment to a single team.
- Known for his blistering speed, Green won the NFL’s Fastest Man competition four times, emphasizing his agility and quickness on the field.
- Throughout his career, he recorded an impressive 54 interceptions, highlighting his sharp defensive skills.
- Green was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times, showcasing consistent recognition of his talent among his peers.
- He also played in 295 consecutive games, a testament to his durability and resilience.
- Beyond individual accolades, Green was instrumental in leading the Redskins to two Super Bowl victories during his tenure.
Darrell Green’s influence on the NFL, especially the Washington Redskins, is profound. His consistent performances, combined with his longevity in the league, solidify his place as one of the all-time great cornerbacks in NFL history.
8. Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson was a standout kicker in the NFL, playing for 23 years across multiple teams. His career highlights include:
- Gary Anderson’s career spanned from 1982 to 2004, making him one of the longest-serving kickers in NFL history.
- Over his tenure, he played for several teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans.
- Anderson successfully converted 538 of his 672 field goal attempts, showcasing his accuracy and reliability.
- He amassed a total of 2,434 points, marking his significant contribution as a scorer for his teams.
- In 1998, while with the Minnesota Vikings, Anderson had a perfect regular season, converting all 35 of his field goal attempts and all 59 extra point tries.
- His consistency saw him selected to the Pro Bowl twice, in 1983 and 1998, highlighting his recognition among his peers.
- Anderson also holds the distinction of being the first kicker in NFL history to adopt the “soccer-style” approach to kicking, which has since become the standard technique.
Anderson’s consistency and dedication make him a notable figure in NFL history.
9. Jeff Feagles
Jeff Feagles had an illustrious career in the NFL, serving as a punter for several teams over a span of 22 seasons. His tenure included stints with the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, and New York Giants.
Feagles’ achievements and statistics are a testament to his skill and precision:
- Feagles dedicated 22 seasons to the NFL, showcasing his longevity and consistency in the league.
- With an average of 45.8 yards per punt, Feagles stands as the NFL’s all-time leader in punting average.
- He masterfully placed 478 punts inside the 20-yard line, holding the NFL’s all-time record for this statistic.
- Demonstrating his precision, Feagles made 525 punts without a single touchback, another record he holds in the NFL.
- Feagles was recognized for his exceptional skills, being selected for the Pro Bowl twice, in 1995 and 2008.
- He was a pivotal member of the team that clinched the Super Bowl XLII title.
Jeff Feagles’ contribution to the NFL is monumental. His consistent performance, record-breaking statistics, and significant accolades position him as one of the most outstanding punters the league has ever witnessed.
10. Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning, a distinguished figure in the NFL, showcased his quarterbacking prowess primarily with the Indianapolis Colts and later with the Denver Broncos. His career spanned from 1998 to 2015 with the Colts and continued with the Broncos from 2016 to 2018.
- Manning threw a remarkable 539 touchdown passes during his career.
- He accumulated an impressive 71,940 passing yards.
- Manning was selected for the Pro Bowl 14 times, reflecting his consistent high-level performance.
- Over 18 seasons, Manning consistently demonstrated his skill and leadership on the field.
- Manning made it to the Super Bowl four times, winning two of them. Notably, he led the Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. His final Super Bowl win was with the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
- At the time of his retirement in 2015, Manning held numerous major NFL records. These included records for passing yards, touchdown passes, fourth-quarter comebacks, game-winning drives, career wins as a starting quarterback, and many more.
- Manning was named the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player five times and was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
His unparalleled statistics, significant accolades, and leadership make him one of the most iconic players in the history of the league.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who played the longest?
George Blanda played professional football for a record 26 seasons, which is the longest duration among the players listed.
Who’s the GOAT WR?
Jerry Rice is often regarded as the greatest wide receiver in NFL history.
Who played all 5 OL positions?
Bruce Matthews played every position on the offensive line and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Who’s the NFL’s all-time leading scorer?
Morten Andersen is the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, accumulating over 2,500 points.
Who has the best punting average?
Jeff Feagles holds the NFL’s all-time record with an average of 45.8 yards per punt.
The National Football League (NFL) has been graced by numerous legendary players who have not only showcased exceptional skills but also demonstrated remarkable longevity in their careers. Players like Brett Favre, Tom Brady, and Jerry Rice have become household names, setting records and inspiring countless fans.
Their dedication, resilience, and passion for the game have allowed them to defy the odds and maintain peak performance levels for years, often surpassing their contemporaries. These top ten players, spanning various positions from quarterbacks to kickers, have left an indelible mark on the NFL.
Their legacies serve as a testament to their greatness and as an inspiration for future generations of athletes. Their stories remind us that with talent, hard work, and dedication, one can achieve lasting success in any field.