The Old Dogs
January 08, 2021

Middle-aged sports fans must unite in support of the NFL Playoff's ancient QBs

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Mike Ehrmann

The internet is a world of perpetual youth, which is why it shames me to admit that I just turned the far-from-young age of 38. It's even more shameful that my eyes perked up when I saw that five quarterbacks aged 37 and older will be playing in the NFL Playoffs this year. I remember having the thought when I was a kid that if you're lucky to live long enough, you will reach an age at which every athlete you watch on TV, aside from a Champions Tour golfer, will be younger than you. It's why the older men I watched with back in the day, like my dad and grandfather, called these grown men "kids."

I am now perilously close to that age. In five more years, there will likely not be a single player in any major professional sports league older than me, unless Jamie Moyer is still pitching (has he retired yet?).

In other words, for men of a certain age like myself, this is the last hurrah. This is one of the final times someone just as old or a little bit older will take the field playing for very high stakes. In a very real sense, I may never again have an athletic role model without feeling more than a little pathetic.

The five QBs are Tom Brady and Drew Brees, both over 40, and Philip Rivers (39), Ben Roethlisberger (38), and Aaron Rodgers (37). Now, do I like these players? I'm good with Rivers, Rodgers is interesting to me, and I actively dislike Brady, Brees, and Big Ben for various reasons. But this weekend and the weekends that follow sees us united in common cause: it's the last stand for the olds.

Together, they've made 107 playoff starts and have (amazingly) won 10 of the last 20 Super Bowls, but now they're fighting for a higher purpose. My very dignity and the dignity of people like me is at stake, and only total success from the old guns can stave off the certain sense that we are no longer young, and are in fact beginning to see the grim outline of our demise.

Melodramatic, you say? Insulting to people who are actually old? Too bad. They've had time to accept their fate, and younger people have no idea what's coming for them. We're in the painful middle stage, a kind of chrysalis in which you emerge with aches and pains, vague concerns about your prostate, and the ability to fall asleep on the couch at a moment's notice.

Time goes on, players either retire or, like Roger Federer or Tiger Woods, lose their fastball, and before long there will be nobody to look "up" to from a chronological point of view. We middle-aged folk must seize the moment while we still can, and if that means rooting for Tom Brady, well, there's a saying about desperate times that applies here. At least he's not a Patriot anymore, and hell, it's better than rooting for these snooty, disrespectful, arrogant kids.