Time to appreciate all these old NFL guys
If you appreciate old, you’ll like this Eagles season. You can walk down the players’ memory lane almost every week.
Last week the Eagles competed against
43-yearold Falcons kicker Matt Bryant, the third-oldest player in the league.
This week they oppose Ryan Fitzpatrick, the
36-year-old interim quarterback of the Buccaneers.
Next week the Eagles take on the oldest cat in the league, 45-year-old kicker Adam Vinatieri of the Colts.
Before the year is done the Eagles will have played
39-year-old quarterback Drew Brees (Saints),
39-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers (Panthers),
40-year-old cornerback Terence Newman (Vikings), and veterans Eli Manning, the Giants’ quarterback, and Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, both 37.
In an industry where the average career is a shade over three years, what that group is doing is insane. Or is it?
The Eagles will start
37-year-old Jason Peters at tackle against the Bucs. Running back Darren Sproles of the Eagles and cornerback Brent Grimes of the Bucs, both 35, won’t play this week due to injuries, but they’ll be back this season.
“A lot of it is durability, availability and just talent,” Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins said. “When you play for over 10 years in this league, you don’t do it by accident. Some guys are talented and they’ll last for three or four years. Some guys are really smart, play with technique but can’t stay healthy. You’ve got to have talent, you’ve got to be a smart player and you’ve got to be healthy. So, you respect the guys that stay that long.”
Did we mention that Tom Brady is 41 and thinks he can play until he’s 45?
Scientific training methods and player safety rules cannot help but lengthen careers. Jenkins, 30, hasn’t ruled out playing into his
mid-30s although he kidded he would have only two reasons to do so.
“I’ll either be really bored or I’m financially in trouble,” Jenkins said. “Hopefully neither of those are on the way. But I feel good at this point, to be honest. I love the game, I’m having fun. So, we’ll see how long I go. Especially where the game’s going. You’re not allowed to hit anybody. So, you save your body. I might be able to play until I’m 40.”
Jason Licht worked in the Eagles’ front office from
2003-07 before moving on after some creative differences over talent procurement.
Licht labored for the Cardinals, the Patriots and Cardinals again before becoming the Bucs’ fifth GM in January of 2014. On his watch the Bucs are 23-42 and counting, with just one winning campaign and zero trips to the playoffs.
The Bucs finally have a quarterback they can rally around in Fitzpatrick, although he’s running out of juice. Licht and then-head coach Lovie Smith whiffed on the first overall pick of the 2015 draft, selecting Jameis Winston.
Winston had issues long before the NFL suspended him the first three games of the season for violating the personal conduct policy. He hasn’t been the answer.
Firing Smith and replacing him with Dirk Koetter apparently isn’t the answer, either. You wonder if Licht has run himself out of favor with the Glazer ownership group.
••• Braxton Miller doesn’t feel like a third-round pick kicked to the curb by the team that selected him. The Houston outcast feels comfortable on the practice squad of the Eagles.
Miller and the Eagles believe he has a future at wide receiver, his position after playing quarterback most of his career at Ohio State. He not only knows what he does best but understands the NFL is about strengthening the strengths that begin with “just getting open...
“Just beating the guy that’s in front of me,” Miller added. “And I can understand defenses pretty well, too.”
In recent years the Eagles have begun asking one more thing of their receivers – a Philly-Philly throwing arm.
“I’ve seen that,” Miller said. “I could. I probably could. But you never know. I just know I’m here and I’m happy.”
The R(E)AD Zone: With
1½ sacks, Chris Long is tied for the Eagles’ lead with Jordan Hicks. With back-toback Super Bowl championship rings, the 33-year-old Long smiled when it was suggested he was peaking. “Maybe not individually but winning, for sure,” Long said. “I’m lucky enough because for eight years it was Jan. 1, my season is over. This is a new thing. I think I’m in a constant state of trying to make up for all those years of playing good football on bad teams.” … Eagles fans, keep rooting for the Ravens (1-1) to lose. That makes the secondround Baltimore pick acquired in a draft day trade choicier. … The average length of a game went up a shade over 3 minutes from last year to 3:09.33. That’s slightly longer than your basically boring MLB game.
Here he is, the oldest old guy in the NFL. Longtime Patriots and Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, shown kicking during the preseason for Indianapolis, will be in town when the Colts pay a visit to the Eagles next Sunday.