Oldest Living Football Player

10 Oldest Living Football Players (Updated 2020)

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Although we have already paid tribute to the oldest active NFL players, those who came before them are equally as they played an important role to the culture and history of the sport. Many of the oldest living retired football players are old enough to have served in the military during World War II. Some of them even fought in the same battles, such as the Battle of the Bulge and were presented with various awards for their wartime service.

Each of the following players below either played in the National Football League (NFL) or one of its predecessors. Before the American Football League (AFL) merged with the NFL in 1970 there was no AFC, NFC, Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, or any of the modern traditions that fans enjoy today. However, many of these old players are legends in their own right and were early heroes of the NFL. A few of these old players went on to have long coaching careers in the NFL, which is what they are better known for.

As of March 2020, this list is as accurate as possible and includes the oldest known living former football players who have enough public information out there. This is list will be regularly updated in the future as needed.

10. Lenny Moore (November 25, 1933 – Present)

Current Age:  86 years old (as of March 2020)
 Years Active in the NFL: 1956 – 1967 (12 seasons)
Team(s):  Baltimore Colts (1956 – 1967)
Position(s): Halfback

Lenny Moorephoto source: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Lenny Moore played with Raymond Berry for the Baltimore Colts from 1956 to 1967. Unlike nearly every other player on this list, Moore did not go on to become a coach. Moore was a halfback/flanker and is one of the reasons why the Colts were a top team during that era.

Moore was known for his speed, which made him an excellent runner. He was also a great receiver, scoring 63 rushing touchdowns over his 12 seasons in the NFL. Moore did have a knee injury in 1962 and lost his starting status, but quickly bounced back the following season. In 1975, Moore was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Did You Know?

Until his record was beat in 2005 by LaDainian Tomlison, Lenny Moore scored a touchdown in an NFL-record 18 consecutive appearances starting in 1963 and continuing through the entire 1964 season.

9. Raymond Berry (February 27, 1933 – Present)

Current Age:  87 years old (as of March 2020)
 Years Active in the NFL: 1955 – 1967 (13 seasons)
Team(s):  Baltimore Colts (1955 – 1967)
Position(s): Split End (Wide Receiver)

Raymond Berryphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Raymond Berry was a split end, the predecessor of the wide receiver, for the Baltimore Colts from 1955 to 1967. Following his playing career, Berry worked as an assistant coach for numerous teams before serving as head coach of the New England Patriots from 1984 to 1989.

Interestingly, Berry didn’t fit the typical football player profile and was considered small and unassuming. However, Berry worked hard to make up for his lack of natural athleticism and went on to become one of the best wide receiver of his era. Berry’s dedication to his craft paid off and he was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973.

Did You Know?

Raymond Berry had to wear special shoes because one of his legs was shorter than the other.

8. Joe Schmidt (January 19, 1932 – Present)

Current Age:  88 years old (as of March 2020)
 Years Active in the NFL: 1953 – 1965 (13 seasons)
Team(s):  Detroit Lions (1953 – 1965)
Position(s): Linebacker

Joe Schmidtphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Joe Schmidt is another former NFL player who also had a long career as a coach. In total as both a player and coach, Schmidt was with the Detroit Lions from 1953 – 1972. As an early linebacker (called a “defensive quarterback” at the time), Schmidt made a name for himself as the defensive leader of the Lions.

Schmidt was well-respected by his team and was chosen as the Lions’ field captain for nine straight seasons. Although he wasn’t the first middle linebacker, Schmidt played a large part in solidifying the position’s importance in football.

Did You Know?

Over his career as a player, Joe Schmidt had several notable achievements, including being named the Detroit Lions’ MVP four times and elected to the Pro Bowl ten straight years from 1955 through 1964.

7. Don Shula (January 4, 1930 – Present)

Current Age:  90 years old (as of March 2020)
 Years Active in the NFL: 1951 – 1957 (7 seasons)
Team(s):  Cleveland Browns (1951 – 1952); Baltimore Colts (1953 – 1956); and Washington Redskins (1957)
Position(s): Defensive Back

Don Shulaphoto source: The Trading Card Database

Like Bud Grant, Don Shula is more famous for being a coach than a player and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach. Shula’s greatest feat as a coach was leading the Miami Dolphins in the only 17-0 perfect season in NFL history in 1972. During his coaching career, Shula set many records, including the most victories at 347, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest NFL coaches ever.

Shula played in the NFL for 7 seasons, from 1951 to 1957. He was first drafted to the Cleveland Browns and went on to play for the Baltimore Colts and the Washington Redskins. At the end of his playing career, Shula played in 73 games, intercepted 21 passes, and recovered four fumbles.

Did You Know?

When Don Shula was hired as head coach for the Baltimore Colts in 1963, he was the youngest head coach in NFL history at the time at 33 years old (there have been several younger coaches since then).

6. Hugh McElhenny (December 31, 1928 – Present)

Current Age:  91 years old (as of March 2020)
 Years Active in the NFL: 1952 – 1964 (13 seasons)
Team(s):  San Francisco 49ers (1952 – 1960); Minnesota Vikings (1961 – 1962); New York Giants (1963); and Detroit Lions (1964)
Position(s): Halfback

Hugh McElhennyphoto source: Wikimedia Commons via Bowman

Hugh McElhenny was and still is one of the most popular San Francisco 49er ever. McElhenny started his NFL career with the 49ers in 1952 and played with the team until 1960. In his final two years with the 49ers, McElhenny suffered numerous injuries and was placed on the 1961 NFL expansion draft and picked up by the newly formed Minnesota Vikings for the 1961 season.

During his time in the NFL, McElhenny was dubbed “The King” for his electrifying and elusive running style. McElhenny had an extremely long stride and high knees, which made him quick on the field. At the time of his retirement, McElhenny was only one of three players who had gained more than 11,000 all-purpose yards.

Did You Know?

Hugh McElhenny was not only inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and had the following statistics at the end of his collegiate career: 2,499 yards rushing, 122 yards passing and 2,621 yards total offense.

5. Bud Grant (May 20, 1927 – Present)

Current Age:  92 years old (as of March 2020)
 Years Active in the NFL: 1951 – 1956 (2 seasons)
Team(s):  Philadelphia Eagles (1951 – 1952)
Position(s): Wide Receiver, Defensive End

Bud Grantphoto source: mspmag.com

Bud Grant is better known for his prolific coaching career, but he was also a professional athlete not only in the NFL, but also in the Canadian Football League (CFL) as well as the NBA. After college, Grant was actually drafted in 1950 by the Philadelphia Eagles, but chose instead to play for the NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers from 1949 – 1951.

Grant joined the Eagles in time for the 1951 season and played until the following season. After this, Grant played for the CFL’s Winnepeg Blue Bombers until 1956. The following year, Grant began his coaching career with the Blue Bombers for nearly a decade. Finally, Grant became the head coach for the Minnesota Vikings in 1967 and stayed on for 18 seasons.

Did You Know?

Bud Grant is the most successful coach in Minnesota Vikings’ history and led the team to four Super Bowls, eleven division titles, one league championship, and three NFC conference championships.

4. Charley Trippi (December 14, 1921 – Present)

Current Age:  98 years old (as of March 2020)
 Years Active in the NFL: 1947 – 1955 (9 seasons)
Team(s):  Chicago Cardinals (1947 – 1955)
Position(s): Halfback, Quarterback

Charley Trippiphoto source: Wikimedia Commons via Bowman

Charley Trippi was an early football superstar and he was a “quadruple-threat.” According to Trippi, “In those days the the more things a player did, the more pay he could demand. I could run, kick, pass, and catch and that made me a valuable property.” Trippi played for 9 seasons on the Chicago Cardinals (the franchise is now the Arizona Cardinals) and had an impressive career.

Since Trippi could do so many things and was a versatile player, he played for a few seasons as a left halfback, a quarterback, and offensive haflback. Trippi spent his last few years as part of the Cardinals’ defensive unit. Trippi was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.

Did You Know?

Charles Trippi’s initial contract with the Chicago Cardinals was worth $100,000, which was a record at the time.

3. Ken Casanega (February 18, 1921 – Present)

Current Age:  99 years old (as of March 2020)
 Years Active in the NFL: 1946 and 1948 (2 seasons)
Team(s):  San Francisco 49ers (1946 and 1948)
Position(s): Quarterback

Ken Casanegaphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Ken Casanega was on the inaugural San Francisco 49ers team in 1946, along with another entry on this list, Jesse Freitas Sr. (incidentally, both Casanega and Freitas will be turning 98 in February). Like Freitas, Casanega served in the military during World War II and also played football at Santa Clara University before World War II broke out.

Casanega said that he actually had no intentions of becoming a professional football player after the War, but decided to join the San Francisco 49ers when Tony Morabito called and said they were putting together a new pro team. Morabito, who was also a Santa Clara alum, and 49ers skipper Buck Shaw, a former Santa Clara coach, appealed to Casanega’s Santa Clara roots and persuaded him to join the 49ers. Casanega went on to play for the 49ers in 1946 and for another season in 1948.

Did You Know?

Ken Casanega intercepted 8 passes, which is the second most in the All-America Football Conference.

2. Jesse Freitas Sr. (February 7, 1921 – Present)

Current Age:  99 years old (as of March 2020)
 Years Active in the NFL: 1946 – 1949 (4 seasons)
Team(s):  San Francisco 49ers (1946 – 1947); Chicago Rockets (1948); and Buffalo Bills (1949)
Position(s): Quarterback

Jesse Freitas Sr.photo source: Levi’s Stadium

Jesse Freitas Sr. was part of the original San Francisco 49ers teams in 1946. Freitas had served as an Army Artillery Commander during World War II and fought at the Battle of the Bulge, with several men who would later join him on the first 49ers team. During the Battle of the Bulge, Freitas ordered an artillery barrage against an enemy position and then supervised the rescue of several comrades who were pinned down by machine gun fire.

Before the War, Freitas played collegiate football at Santa Clara University under future 49ers head coach Buck Shaw. Many of Freitas former Santa Clara teammates joined him on the 49ers. Freitas’ son, Jesse Freitas Jr. was also a quarterback in the NFL. Unfortunately the senior Frietas has outlived his son, who fell on hard times before his death in 2015.

Did You Know?

Jesse Frietas Sr. earned a Bronze Star for his heroic deeds during the Battle of the Bulge.

1. Cecil Souders (January 3, 1921 – Present)

Current Age:  99 years old (as of March 2020)
 Years Active in the NFL: 1947 – 1949 (3 seasons)
Team(s):  Detroit Lions (1947 – 1949)
Position(s): End, Tackle

Cecil Soudersphoto source: Wikimedia Commons via Bowman

Also a veteran of World War II, Cecil Souders was a three-time All American for Ohio State University before he played professionally. Although Souders was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1945, he did not begin his professional career until 1947, when he played for the Detroit Lions. Souders stayed with the Lions until the end of the 1949 season. Currently, Cecil Souders is the oldest living former football player at the age of 99.

Although Souders’ college career was a tad more prolific than his professional career, he is both a hero on the field and off of the field. Souders served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Did You Know?

Cecil Souders was inducted into Ohio State’s Hall of Fame in 2002, when he was 81 years old.

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