Peyton Manning is off to incredible start to his 2010 campaign. No quarterback has ever thrown three straight games of 3 TDs and 0 INTs to open a season. At 34 years old, Manning is set to have one of the great ‘old guy’ years ever.
The following is a list of the 10 best quarterbacking seasons by a guy age 34 or older:
10. Vinne Testaverde, 1998, Age 35
One of three old QBs to post an incredible year in 1998, Vinnie led the Jets to a 12-1 record in games he started. The threw 29 TDs to just 7 picks, and made his second (and last) Pro Bowl. In the process he took the Jets all the way to the AFC Title game. Testaverde would later become the poster geezer for the Old Quarterback Club. He played until age 44, though he never replicated the success of his 1998 campaign.
9. Randall Cunningham, 1998, Age 35
Cunningham’s career resurrection coincided with the amazing rookie year of Randy “The QB Maker” Moss. Cunningham rode the Moss train to a league high 8.0 yards per attempt and the top passer rating in the game at 106.0. His 34 touchdowns and 10 picks helped the Vikings to a 15-1 record. They missed the Super Bowl thanks to a missed field goal. It would be the final top season of Cunningham’s career, and he would never appear in more than six games in a season again.
8. Roger Staubach, 1979, Age 37
Staubach got better almost every year he played, and he saved the best for last. In his final season, he led the NFL in passer rating, throwing 27 TDs to just 11 picks. He threw for a career high 3586 yards at 7.8 yards per attempt. The Cowboys won 11 games, and the NFC East before dropping a two point game in the playoffs.
7. Kurt Warner, 2008, Age 37
In one magical year, Warner rewrote his own story (again), changed forever the perception of a franchise (again), made the Super Bowl (again), and threatened to beat down the doors to Canton (again). Warner put up a near MVP season of 30 TDs, 4583 yards, and a passer rating of 96.9. In the process he took a 9-7 Cardinals team all the to the Super Bowl, only to lose by a toenail. Unlike other guys on this list, Warner followed up his miracle year with another strong performance in 2009 before walking away from football voluntarily.
6. Joe Theismann, 1983, Age 34
Back before he caused Sandra Bullock to adopt Michael Oeher, Theismann was a great NFL player. In 1983, he led the Redskins to the Super Bowl and captured the MVP award. He had an outstanding season with a YPA of 8.1 yards and a rating of 97.0. It was by far his finest NFL season, though he did take the ‘Skins back to the playoffs in 1984 before Lawrence Taylor snapped him like a twig, ending his career during the 1985 season.
5. Steve Young, 1998, Age 37
Young had a strong season in 1997 at age 36, but his next year was truly vintage. He led the NFL with 36 touchdowns and threw for a league high 278 yards a game. His passer rating was 101.1, a common occurrence for the man with the highest career rating in history. Oh yeah, he RAN for 454 yards as well. Steve Young was so good after age 34 that nearly every season he played could have been on this list. Unfortunately, it was his last hurrah. He retired during the 1999 season due to concerns about head injuries.
4. Rich Gannon, 2002, Age 37
How about a career journeyman quarterback winning an MVP award at 37 years old. Gannon had been to three straight Pro Bowls after arriving in Oakland, but in 2002 he had a dream season in silver and black. He lead the NFL with 4689 yards passing, posted a rating of 97.3 and led the Raiders to the Super Bowl. The dream ended suddenly for Gannon, however as he battled injuries in 2003 and soon after both he and the Raiders were out of football for good.
3. John Elway, 1997, Age 37
I could have used either Elway’s 1997 or 1998 season, but either way, the result is the same. The Broncos won the Super Bowl. Elway’s redemption was complete with a second Super Bowl win. In his next to last season, Elway posted an excellent season with 27 TDs and 11 picks. He followed it up at age 38 with another Super Bowl win and a career high passer rating of 93.0.
2. Y.A. Tittle, 1963, Age 37
Tittle led the Giants to an 11-3 record and won the NFL MVP award at 37. He lead the NFL in in completion percentage, yards per attempt and touchdown passes with 36. The stat hadn’t even been invented yet, but he posted a career high passer rating of 104.8. 1963 was an incredible cap to a legendary career. It’s shame he didn’t retire after that season, but a narrow loss to Bears in the playoffs left a bitter taste in his mouth. The next season his numbers plummeted, as he led the Giants to just one win in 12 games. The three time MVP would later be elected to the Hall of Fame.
1. Brett Favre, 2009, Age 40
Favre’s 2009 was one of the best seasons by a quarterback of any age. 33 TDs, only 7 picks, and a rating of 107.2 tell only part of the story. He completed 68% of his passes and threw for more than 4,000 yards as he lead the Vikings to the NFC Championship game…where he promptly stomped their hopes and dreams with an ill-advised pick. Say what you want about Favre, his 2009 season was the best Old Guy Performance ever.
Honorable Mentions: Earl Morall, 1968, Sonny Jurgensen, 1970, Brad Johnson 2002, Steve DeBerg and Warren Moon 1990, Trent Green 2002.