The Aging NFL: No Country Left For These Old Men

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst IOctober 5, 2009

Sure, 30 may be the new 20 and hitting the big 4-0 is no longer as old as it used to be.  But for the NFL, you pretty much have to double those years to equate age.  For running backs, hitting 30 is more dreaded than reaching 40, 50, or even up to 100.

Being a wide receiver it's not as bad, but they will most likely start getting less looks and won't be able to get as open, as well.  Quarterbacks are able to continue playing and succeeding a little longer (i.e. Brett Favre), but even then, at least lose a little step.

With young bucks like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco racking up numbers, those ages now seem even more senile.  This season there have been a few players who are trying to push the limits of the fountain of youth, but are now to the point where they have to resurrect Ponce de Leon for another voyage.

Much had been made about LaDanian Tomlinson not only losing a step, but losing his toughness.  After all, the last two seasons he's failed to finish the team's playoff games and last year they were able to find success WITHOUT him. 

When he fumbled, was ineffective, and finally injured against the Oakland Raiders opening night, it seemed to prove that he is in fact the running back's equivalent of a senior citizen. 

What LT has also seemed to lose is confidence in himself.  He's tripping and falling flat on his face, and dropping passes out of the backfield.  It's sad to see, since LT pretty much peaked before the Chargers did.

Ageless Kerry Collins was one step away from being out of football when Vince Young was injured/quit on the team and he was able to lead the Titans to the best record in the league a year ago. 

However, this year with him as the starter, the team has already lost more than they did last year and his play suggests he's trying to re-enact his five interception Super Bowl performance with the Giants. 

His fumble on the last drive against the Texans sealed his team's loss and negated a great performance from his running backs.  His horrible play against the Jaguars almost made it impossible to even set up the run since they were down for so long. 

With Vince Young's lack of leadership, Jeff Fisher might have to channel the spirit of Steve McNair with a seance/dig up.

And finally, Terrell Owens, whose consecutive games with a catch streak was snapped last week.  When he has gotten looks down field, he's dropped them as if they were bowling balls falling onto his hands. 

However, TO in his old age seems to not have the energy to fight in press conferences anymore.  When baited and pushed into corners, he doesn't fight back or even cry or anything anymore.

On the other side, linemen are able to keep playing almost into their 40s (and some even into their 50s).  So why are linemen able to keep playing?  Simple.  Their position has little to do with speed and all to do with strength.  The position players must rely on their quickness, but as long as the linemen stay big and strong, they will always have a job.

So what's next for these individuals?  They may have to accept the fact that their days as "the guy" on their team is over and grow comfortable with playing a role as a backup.  And even if they're not willing to accept that, their recent play could make that decision for them. 

Either that, or become broadcasters.  And if you put Terrell Owens in front of a camera, you know he would make sure the viewer would never be able to see the game and he would purposely talk over all of the action to bring the attention back to himself.