4 is turning the big 4-0

Quarterback Brett Favre is about to turn 40, but playing in the NFL at 40 or older isn't as rare as you might think. See the list of quarterbacks and what Favre had to say about the impending milestone.

George Blanda retired from the NFL just shy of his 49th birthday. Brett Favre, about to turn 40, isn't even thinking past tomorrow … or at least that's what he's saying these days, but given his history with changing his mind, you never can be too sure.

On Saturday, Favre will be celebrating his 40th birthday.

"I just want to get through practice tomorrow. In all reality, that's all that matters – the next game, the next practice (and) getting better," Favre said Wednesday. "There was a time where I looked past and beyond, and (now) I just want to beat St. Louis."

Blanda and Favre are hardly alone in playing into their 40s. A list from the Pro Football Hall of Fame reveals it is more common than some might think. Kicker Morten Andersen retired after the 2007 season at 47 years old. Kicker John Carney is still active with the New Orleans Saints at 45 years old, and he joins a list of four other players who made it until 45 years old.

Only 15 quarterbacks have been on active NFL rosters at 40 years or older. Warren Moon made it to 44 before he retired in 2000, and so did Vinny Testaverde, whose last season was 2007 with the Carolina Panthers.

Doug Flutie played for the New England Patriots in 2005 at the age of 43 and Earl Morrall was 42 before he hung up his cleats after the 1976 season with the Miami Dolphins.

But once it gets down to the age of 40, there are several more quarterbacks that made it that far – Charlie Conerly with the New York Giants in 1961, Len Dawson with the Kansas City Chiefs and in 1975, Vince Evans with the Oakland Raiders in 1995, Joe Ferguson with the Indianapolis Colts in 1990, Jim Hart with the Washington Redskins in 1984, Brad Johnson with the Dallas Cowboys last year, Sonny Jurgensen with the Washington Redskins in 1974, Dave Krieg with the Tennessee Oilers in 1998, Wade Wilson with the Oakland Raiders in 1999 and even Johnny Unitas with the San Diego Chargers in 1973.

"I know as well as anybody how long a season can be and more so for an older guy mentally. Physically you are going to feel the aches and pains, there is no doubt about that, but mentally being able to overcome them and get through the week," Favre said. "So, I don't know if there is any added feeling on my part that, ‘Hey look at me, I'm playing.' It's what I've expected to do. It's what I've always expected to do. If I am going to play I want to play well. I can't use age as an excuse, although people want to do that, good or bad. So it just is what it is. I just hope I continue to play and lead at the level I have up to this point."

Of all the quarterbacks that made it playing into their 40s, only Unitas, Jurgensen, Dawson, Moon and Blanda are in the Hall of Fame.

Favre said one of the biggest differences for him is learning how to study film throughout the years. If he studied two or three hours of film a day when his career first started, he figures he maybe got 20 minutes out of it. Now he is much more efficient in his study sessions.

"I know what I'm looking for, certain blitzes and front tendencies and things like that," he said. "So it's really to the point and get out, because there is such a thing as overkill, and more than anything I want to keep my mind fresh. I'd love to physically be as fresh as possible (too)."

While there are only three active NFL players in their 40s, the list will grow by two this month with Favre's birthday on Saturday and kicker John Kasay's birthday on Oct. 27.

FACING FAVRE

As a boy growing up in Plymouth, Minn., Rams rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis put his feelings on facing Favre this Sunday in perspective.

"It's definitely going to be pretty cool. I'd be lying if I said it wouldn't be. Growing up, as a Vikings fans in Minnesota and then obviously watching him in Green Bay twice a year do his thing, as an athlete and a football player, I have a ton of respect for him because you sense that when he plays the game of football, he has a passion and a love for the game that really you don't see a whole ton across the board," Laurinaitis said. "I saw where he threw the ball and then he was hustling 20 yards down the field trying to get a block. Stuff like that, you see that a lot of other guys aren't doing. That separates him. He takes that same attitude as if he was a big kid out on a field running around. I don't know how many years younger I am than him (it'll be 18 years younger by Sunday), but he still plays like a kid and it's awesome to see that still out of a player. As an athlete, you respect that a lot."

Growing up in Minnesota, however, Laurinaitis remembers seeing Favre playing for the Packers. His thoughts probably echo that of many Vikings fans.

"It's one of those guys where if he's on your team, you'd love him, but if he's on the other team you can't stand him. You want your guy to be like that," Laurinitais said. "When I was growing up, I definitely didn't like him when he was slinging that thing around at Lambeau Field. I always had a respect for him, I'm not going to lie about that. I always had a respect for him and the way he played the game."

NOTES

  • G Steve Hutchinson (back), WR Darius Reynaud (not injury related) and DE Ray Edwards (hamstring) did not participate Wednesday. CB Cedric Griffin (hand) and LB Erin Henderson (calf) were limited along with Favre (foot/ankle/knee).

  • For the Rams, WR Donnie Avery (hamstring) and WR Keenan Burton (hamstring), CB Ron Bartell (thigh), QB Marc Bulger (shoulder), S Craig Dahl (concussion), S Anthony Smith (Achilles) and T Jason Smith (knee) were all limited. S James Butler (knee) didn't practice.

  • The Rams have been highly overmatched this year. They have been outscored 108-24, losing to Seattle 28-0, Washington 9-7, Green Bay 36-17 and San Francisco 35-0. The Rams have scored all but three of their 24 points in the second quarter.

  • Four teams (Buffalo, Cleveland, Kansas City and Detroit) have given up more points than the Rams this year, but no team has scored fewer than St. Louis' 24 points. The next worst in the league is Carolina at 37 points.

  • A few of the biggest advantages the Vikings have had over their opponents: The Vikings have made 45.8 percent of their third downs and their opponents just 30.6. Favre has been sacked nine times, but the Vikings have sacked their opponents 16 times. Favre has thrown only one interception as opposed to the Minnesota defense having five.

  • The Rams have fumbled eight times and lost six already this year.


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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