There have only been just over 40 professional football players who have continued to play after reaching the age of 40. Football is one of the few sports where the players usually quit playing while they’re still in their 30s, and possibly even younger if they’re seriously injured. There are several reasons why these pro players retire so young. Since football is such a physical sport, it is quite normal for NFL players to attain some type of injury on a regular basis. These injuries vary in seriousness from simple bruises or sprains, to more serious injuries such as dislocations, breaks, etc. Some players simply tire of incurring these ‘poundings’ and choose to leave. The body can only take so much abuse, and it’s a fact that the older they get, the more likely they are to be seriously hurt.
The body is less resilient at thirty-eight than at twenty-two. Others may wish to pursue other career options, and possibly even play another sport.
But just how old is too old to play pro football? Who decides when they should retire? These are some really good questions, because every person is different. One player may be in better physical shape at forty-two than another is at thirty-two. A twenty-seven-year-old may have gotten hurt severely enough to be forced to end his career before he’s even thirty.
George Blanda holds the record for being the oldest NFL player, choosing to retire one month prior to his forty-ninth birthday. Most of the time a player makes the decision of when he wants to discontinue playing professional football. Sometimes, though, it may be recommended by their physician or some other person whose opinion matters. As long as a football player is healthy and in shape, as well as able to pass the countless physical agility tests and examinations, then he can leave it up to his own body to tell him when it’s time call it quits.
Some football players are especially fragile, and may have a history of sustaining multiple injuries. If these fragile players decide to leave one team and join another one, they may be forced to retire. The new team will not sign a player, no matter how good they are, if they are not 100%.
So, ultimately, it’s up to each individual player and his experiences to decide when it will be time to retire from the NFL.