Power Ranking the Best Over-35 Athletes in Major Sports
After lifelong Yankee Derek Jeter managed to earn himself a spot in the 3,000-hit club just over a week ago, I decided to put together a list of the best athletes over the age of 35.
There are many stars in all of the leagues who are getting it done even at the tender ages of 37, 41 and even 43. They just don't want to quit.
This illustrious list full of future Hall of Famers includes recent Stanley Cup, World Series and NBA champions, and a semi-recent Super Bowl champ as well. Since it's very difficult to compare players in different sports, I ranked them within each league.
The group spans the four major sports leagues and covers many different positions. Obviously, the ages of the NFL players listed are a bit lower because, well...it's the freakin' NFL. I tried also not to just make a list of older players still active in their respective leagues but the ones who are either still making an impact or who don't look to be slowing down any time soon (or both).
Since these guys aren't getting any younger, let's get to it.
NBA's No. 5: Marcus Camby, 37
Camby's regular season numbers took a bit of a dip this year for the Blazers, but he was very much a necessary component in their last two playoff runs.
Camby started all 12 of the playoff games that Portland took part in over the past two years and averaged 10 rebounds and over 40 percent shooting in almost 30 minutes a game.
When Portland needed a center, they turned to Camby and he delivered, even at 37 years old. He doesn't seem to mind the minutes and could still play for a few more seasons.
If the Blazers' injury woes continue, Camby will be right there to fill in.
NBA's No. 4: Grant Hill, 38
According to his Wikipedia page, Grant Hill's "time in the league has been hampered by career-threatening injuries, notably during the prime of his career"...and yet, he still averaged 13 points per in 80 games this season. Hill is unstoppable.
By the time next season comes around (if it happens this year), Hill will be 39 years old and still one of the pillars to the Suns game plan. He has played no less than 65 games a year since 2005-06 and is shooting well over 45 percent from the floor.
Even though many counted him out a few years ago with all those injuries, Hill has managed to stay in the league and actually make a difference for a team that needs him. He also seemingly does it in a nice way, earning NBA sportsmanship honors this past season.
NBA's No. 3: Derek Fisher, 36
Fisher is the point guard of the modern Lakers' championship teams, having won five times with the purple and gold. He has played in all 82 season games in eight of the last nine seasons, including starting all 82 in the last four and playing close to 30 minutes per game in each of those years.
Say what you want about him, but this man seems to be indestructible. Once Fisher works his off-court magic in settling this lockout dea,l and the Lakers regroup, he could be looking at a few more solid seasons and a couple more chances at rings.
I mean, his other hand must feel lonely right?
NBA's No. 2: Jason Kidd, 38
Even as the point guard for the NBA champion Mavericks, I can't give J-Kidd the No. 1 spot due to his numbers being much lower than the top guy. However, Kidd was a cornerstone in the Mavs' title run, and even at his veteran age, managed to do his part and make a difference.
Kidd was quoted as saying he still has a few more years left in him, and if Dallas can stick together and not lose too many free agents, he could be poised to lead them to another title.
Kidd will not give up until the very end, and that's what has made him so great over the years.
NBA's No. 1: Steve Nash, 37
Steve Nash is the go to No. 1 on this list, without a doubt. Nash is very deserving to be at the top because of his unlimited energy and complete disregard for his body, in addition to the huge numbers he puts up for a team that seems to rely solely on him sometimes.
Nash is one of the most dynamic players in the NBA, and he throws/contorts his body around to make any shot or pass into a legit play. The best part about him, is that this is exactly what he did 10 years ago too. He's not slowing down at all, and once Nash is given a proper full team around him, he could lead them to the NBA championship.
NHL's No. 6 Daniel Alfredsson, 38
Alfredsson is coming off a pretty rough season with his lowest point total in his career but remains a strong leader for a rebuilding Ottawa team. Only two years ago, he was putting up 70-point years and making goalies scared as he flew down the boards.
If the Swede hopes to remain meaningful in this league, he must pick up the slack and get back in form. He could have two or three more years left in him to shine and pick up some serious totals.
NHL's No. 5: Chris Pronger, 36
Pronger remains one of the toughest defencemen/players in the NHL and will keep playing until he can no longer skate.
He helped lead Canada to gold in the 2010 Olympics and is part of the exclusive Triple Gold club. His point totals are lower than he'd like, but Pronger's job is to protect the front of the net and knock people off their skates.
He's not young at 36, but he's not close to being finished anytime soon.
NHL's No. 4: Martin Brodeur, 39
When Marty Brodeur finally hangs up his skates and calls it a career, he will probably go down as the greatest goalie in NHL history. The only reason he isn't higher on this list is because his play was less than stellar this past season, but who can blame him at 39 years of age?
Over 600 career wins, over 100 career shutouts, two gold medals, three Stanley Cups and he's still not satisfied! Hopefully, New Jersey will do their part to put some talent in front of him, and Brodeur will be able to focus more.
I hope he still has some fight in him because seeing this man retire would just be devastating.
NHL's No. 3: Teemu Selanne, 41
Selanne's numbers had been declining over the past few years, but this season, the Finnish Flash seemed like a player two years out of the draft. Selanne roared to 31 goals and 80 points, helping Corey Perry lead the Ducks to the playoffs.
Since Mark Recchi retired, Selanne is the oldest non-goalie in the NHL and seems like he's just hitting his stride (again).
I don't think Selanne is satisfied yet, and will keep pushing until he can't do it anymore.
NHL's No. 2: Nicklas Lidstrom, 41
Not only is Red Wings captain Nik Lidstrom putting up 82-game, 62-point seasons at age 41, he also wins awards. Lidstrom took home his seventh Norris Trophy for the league's best defenceman this year, beating out Stanley Cup-winning Zdeno Chara.
Lidstrom has won his fair share of trophies and Stanley Cups, but is still getting it done in Detroit. He is the captain and a great leader and hasn't really dipped very far in his stat lines in recent years.
This man is headed on a one-way flight to the Hall of Fame when he finally decides to call it a career.
NHL's No. 1, Tim Thomas, 37
Remember two years ago when Thomas won the Vezina, then disappeared for a season and everyone thought he was done? Well, we can all just erase that from our minds after his performance this past season and postseason.
Thomas led the Bruins to the playoffs with 35 wins and nine shutouts. Then, he led them through the playoffs to the Stanley Cup with four shutouts, a 1.98 goals against average and a .940 save percentage. Needless to say, Timmy Thomas was the reason Boston ended its Stanley Cup drought, and he was the deserving recipient of the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP.
At 37 years old, Thomas could be poised to bounce off this year and keep up his stellar play. He sure didn't look his age when ripping apart Vancouver's scorers.
NFL's No. 5: Pat Williams, 38
Pat Williams is unstoppable—both in the immovable sense and the not-quitting sense. Not many NFL players are still playing at age 38, let alone defensive tackles. He is currently the oldest defensive player in the NFL.
If this is to be his last season (and if there is a season) Pat Williams could make a very big difference for the Vikings, as they try to reclaim their relevance in the league, as the final push of his career.
NFL's No. 4: Brian Dawkins, 37
If there is one position that gets tougher in your later 30s, it is most definitely the safety position.
You have to run up and down the field, come in for blitzes and take a lot of the crap for big-yardage plays. Dawkins also plays defensive back for the Broncos and must make the big tackles in midfield.
Needless to say, he gets stuff done.
Dawkins has racked up a number of sacks and countless tackles over the last few seasons and shows no signs of slowing down. He might even surpass Pat Williams as the oldest defensive player if he keeps up this kind of youthful play.
NFL's No. 3: Adam Vinatieri, 38
There are a number of older placekickers still around in the NFL, but Vinatieri stands above them all.
He is one of the most clutch kickers in NFL history and has won four of the six Super Bowls he has played in. Most recently with the Colts in 2006.
He was voted to the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team and could make that happen in this decade if he keeps up the way he is playing now.
NFL's No. 2: Tony Gonzalez, 35
Even though Gonzalez is the youngest player on this list, he is deserving of a spot for being such a dominant tight end while barely showing any signs of that changing.
He is arguably one of the best tight ends to ever play the game and was a huge help in Atlanta's excellent season this past year.
Gonzalez was voted into the Pro Bowl 11 times in his 14-year career and was the first tight end to ever catch 1,000 passes.
This man is the real deal, and he could set some unbelievable records if he keeps playing at such a high level.
NFL's No. 1: Ray Lewis, 36
Ray Lewis is simply an animal. An animal who won't quit. He is one of the toughest and most intense players in one of the toughest sports in the world. His age doesn't seem to phase him at all.
Lewis has been voted into 12 Pro Bowls in his 15-year career, and he will not retire until his body stops working.
This man is as tough as they get.
MLB's No. 7: Matt Stairs, 43
Yes, you read that correctly. He is 43 years old.
Stairs has played for 13 different major league clubs—a record he shares with two other players.
He is one of the best Canadian-born baseball players to ever play in the Majors (which isn't saying much, but still), and he was part of the 2008 World Series-winning Philadelphia Phillies.
Stairs can hit the long ball and has shown he has some serious power. At 43 years of age, he seems to be doing just fine in his career.
MLB's No. 6: Jason Giambi, 40
Jason Giambi is getting it done this year in Colorado—even at 40 and even after admitting to the use of steroids a number of years ago.
He apologized and continued to play in the league despite this downfall and is still around today for his 17th season.
His OPS and slugging percentage are much higher than they have been in years, and as long as Giambi is still hitting the long ball, he'll have a job in baseball.
MLB's No. 5: Omar Vizquel, 44
At 44 years old, Omar Vizquel is the oldest position player in baseball and the second oldest in the entire league.
He is playing in his 23rd MLB season and is one of the best shortstops in history—possibly because he had so long to rack up stats.
He has the second most hits by a shortstop behind Jeter and has made the most double plays by a shortstop in MLB history. His fielding percentage is also one of the highest ever for a shortstop.
Omar seems to be doing fine in the lineup for the White Sox and could even play a few more solid years before calling it quits. Maybe after he follows Jeter and reaches 3,000 hits...only 169 more to go!
MLB's No. 4: Tim Wakefield, 44
Tim Wakefield being a part of the Red Sox rotation just seems so natural since he's been consistently there for almost two decades.
The oldest player in baseball still must have some juice in him because he is whipping out those nasty knuckleballs and looks to continue doing it for a few more years.
Last year, Wakefield became the first player on the Red Sox to win the Roberto Clemente Award as the player who, "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team".
That pretty much sums it up right there.
MLB's No. 3: Mariano Rivera, 41
When Rivera finally retires, he could go down as the greatest closer in baseball history. He is a 12-time All-Star, five-time World Series Champion, has over 1,000 career strikeouts (as a relief pitcher, remember) and is second all time in saves with 582—only 19 behind first place.
If Rivera decides to play a few more years, which is definitely a possibility, he could shatter a ton of records and set the bar extremely high for future relief pitchers.
When he does call it quits he is a sure thing for a spot in Cooperstown.
MLB's No. 2: Jim Thome, 40
Jim Thome is doing what he does best—quietly reaching an incredible milestone while hiding under the enormous shadow of a Yankee reaching his own milestone.
Thome is four home runs away from reaching 600 on his career and would be the eighth player to ever do so. He did it without steroids or making any noise about it, just a guy who goes to work every day and hits the long ball.
Thome's 596th home run wasn't just impressive at age 40, it was downright amazing considering he launched it 490 feet!
Right now, Thome sits 13 HRs behind Sammy Sosa, but with another year or two under his belt, he could easily surpass Ken Griffey Jr. who totaled 630.
If he manages that, Thome will be one of the best sluggers in baseball history, all while keeping a very low profile.
MLB's No. 1: Derek Jeter, 37
The reason Derek Jeter is No. 1 here is because he is the only Yankee in history to reach the 3,000-hit plateau.
I almost couldn't believe it when I heard it. When all is said and done, Jeter will go down as one of the best Yankees of all time. There's no denying it: Rookie of the Year, 12-time All-Star, five World Series rings, five Gold Gloves and a World Series MVP award—AND he's only 37, which according to this list, is nothing!
Derek Jeter currently sits at No. 26 on the all-time hit list with 3,007. Every single player above him (and many below him) is in the Hall of Fame, with the exception of Pete Rose.
Jeter is such a consistent and amazing hitter that by next week, he could already have moved up two spots on that list. He is already on pace for around 200 hits this season which could put him in the top 15 all time.
I say he gets there and sooner than you think.