NFL players, especially quarterbacks, are playing longer than they ever have before.
The game has changed, and the quality of athletes has changed and will continue to change. Guys are taking care of themselves, and rules are certainly favorable to quarterbacks on viscous hits and hits in general.
There wasn’t this longevity that existed early in my era. Maybe I started setting the bar to play longer, but I think there is a fun factor. Kind of reinvigorating yourself or finding fun, and sometimes the coach can bring that to the team. Look, we are going to study, we are going to prepare, but we are going to have a good time.
It is so important to be mentally and physically ready for every game. That goes without saying. But I think it’s important to let yourself have fun, and not just in the game or after a touchdown, but in practice and in meetings. I am sure Bill Belichick would argue against me on that.
I do think you’ll see more players play longer if physically they are up to the challenge, but they are also mentally reinvigorated and are having fun. There is certainly something to playing your best football in your late 30s and now your 40s.
The best year I ever had, statistically speaking, was my 19th year (first of two seasons in Minnesota). I had a blast. It was a lot of fun during the week when we were traveling. We had a good time practicing and playing together, and that is the key.
I felt so much wiser in Year 19 than early in my career. And I’m sure Aaron Rodgers would say the same thing, and so would Tom Brady.