No NFL player in history has aged as well as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who will start in his seventh Super Bowl game a week from Sunday in Houston against the Atlanta Falcons. Brady is 39-years-old and seemingly better than ever.
On the flip side is 34-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who lost to Brady’s Pats last Saturday, and on Tuesday hinted at a possible early retirement. That’s cause for minor alarm for the man Roethlisberger is most often compared to due to age (2004 NFL Draft class) and success (both with two Super Bowl rings). Giants fans have got to wonder, will Eli Manning be a Brady or a Roethlisberger in terms of longevity?
The needle is pointing in the direction of Brady for Eli right now as he’s been the most durable quarterback in the league since that 2004 draft. Manning has played a remarkable 12 straight 16-game seasons, and has started a whopping 199 straight games.
So Manning is as unbreakable as they come even at the ripe QB age of 36, but the other half of the equation here regards level of play. Manning saw his numbers decline across the board this season, as he threw nine less touchdown passes, threw for 409 less yards, and threw two more picks in 2016 than he did in 2015.
Roethlisberger, who missed two games due to injury this past season and four games in 2015, has seen his numbers dip in recent years as well. He peaked in 2014, throwing for a career-high 4,952 yards. In 12 games played in 2015 he threw for 3,938 yards, and in 14 games played in 2016 he threw for 3,819 yards.
“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options, to consider health and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season,” Roethlisberger told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh. “I think that’s, in my point of my career and my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”
Manning has never discussed an early retirement, but if his numbers continue to stagnate, that decision might be made for him.