Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Apr 2012

Last Man Standing

Patriots tackle Matt Light is apparently ready to announce his retirement. As NFL Network's Albert Breer noted on Twitter, this probably leaves Tom Brady as the last player on the Patriots from the 2001 Super Bowl champions. Kevin Faulk was on the team last year, but he's a free agent and very unlikely to be re-signed.

This got me thinking: Is there something unique about a Super Bowl champion having only one player left after 11 years? So I went to look at the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It turns out that Ronde Barber is the only member of that team still in Tampa Bay. In fact, Barber is the only member of the 2002 Bucs who is still in the league at all, whereas there are four 2001 Patriots still in the league (Brady, Lonnie Paxton, Richard Seymour, and Adam Vinatieri), and five if you count Faulk.

So Brady's position isn't unique, but it is interesting. I thought it would be fun to go back and see who was the last man standing from a string of Super Bowl champions. Do you know the last member of the 1999 Rams in the league? Can you name the last member of the 1994 49ers to retire? Who are the two players still left in the league from the 2000 Ravens offense? Read on to see if you know the answers.

1993 Cowboys: The last player on the team was Darren Woodson, who retired after 2003. Three Cowboys made it to 2004 on different teams: Brock Marion, Emmitt Smith, and Darrin Smith.

1994 49ers: The last man standing from the 1994 champs was Bryant Young, who retired in 2007 after spending his entire career in San Francisco.

1995 Cowboys: Larry Allen was a rookie in 1994, so he doesn't count for the 1993 Cowboys, but he was the last of the Super Bowl Cowboys to go. His final year in Dallas was 2005, and his final year in the NFL was 2007.

1996 Packers: Duh.

1997 Broncos: Jason Elam and Tom Nalen both lasted until 2007 in Denver. At that point Nalen retired and Elam went on to Atlanta. However, Elam wasn't the last man standing from the 1997 Broncos. That honor goes to Trevor Pryce, who played through 2010, while Elam retired after 2009.

1998 Broncos: The same as the 1997 Broncos, with the addition of Matt Lepsis, who was a rookie in 1998, spent his whole career in Denver, and retired the same year as Nalen.

1999 Rams: This is the earliest Super Bowl champion to have a player still active in the NFL, although not in St. Louis. London Fletcher is the last of the Cinderella Rams to play in the league. Leonard Little, who retired after 2009, was the last of the 1999 Rams in St. Louis.

2000 Ravens: Ray Lewis, you know. However, two guys who were way down near the bottom of the offensive depth chart are still in the league after a dozen years, on other teams: Chris Redman and Brandon Stokley.

2001 Patriots: As noted above, the last Patriots are Brady, Paxton, Seymour, and Vinatieri.

2002 Bucs: Ronde Barber

2003 Patriots: At this point, we have a team with a lot of players left in the league, especially since the Patriots had very strong drafts in 2002-2003. Daniel Graham, Deion Branch, Dan Koppen, Vince Wilfork, and Asante Samuel are among the players from this team still active, along with the players listed in the 2001 Patriots section.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 18 Apr 2012

29 comments, Last at 14 Mar 2013, 2:48am by jeanneflor

Comments

1
by Levente from Hungary :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 7:32pm

It was a fun list. As I see, Duh from the Packers is the record holder in longevity. Not that it was as surprise.

2
by Theo :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 7:50pm

London Fletcher... rookie free agent of the 1998 Rams. I've seen Stokeley run around in a Giants uniform last year. I'd barely call it "play" but I think it counts.

5
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 9:31pm

I forgot Fletcher was on that team. My guess was "probably Leonard Little, maybe Tory Holt?"

6
by rfh1001 :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 3:20am

I did not forget London Fletcher, because I never forget him, because I am, slightly, obsessed by his career. What would the wider view of him be if he had played in NE, Baltimore, Pitt?

(I live in London.)

8
by Theo :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 7:39am

Have you read Romanowski's book?
After reading that book, I'm surprised that linebackers like Ray Lewis, James Farrior, London Fletcher and some others are still kicking it after ~15 seasons in the league. And come to think of it, the guy is under 6'0 and hasn't missed a game in his career.

7
by Theo :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 7:31am

I've seen Holt try to play in Jacksonville. But he was to fragile to go over the middle and to sit in the hole and not explosive enough to burn someone man to man.
Take away the fact that he had no value on special teams and after only one or 2 seasons he was gone.
He was a rookie in 99 in the show on turf, and had a similar role as Reggie Wayne in Indy. Spectacular player.

3
by BroncosGuyAgain :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 8:57pm

Fun item, Aaron. I'm not convinced Stokely is any more active than Faulk, but time will tell. There are some really great names on that list. Longevity in the NFL is a really rare phenomenon.

14
by BroncFan07 :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 11:04am

For what it's worth, Stokley just signed with Denver. Active may still be relative, though.

4
by Thok :: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 9:27pm

Attempting to go back a little further, I think the 1991 Redskins had Brian Mitchell as the last one standing (retired in 2003) and Darrell Green as the last Redskin (retired with the team in 2002.) Nether of those is really surprising, but I could be wrong.

9
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 9:07am

Technically Keenan McCardell was drafted by the 1991 Skins but he is not listed on their roster so I suppose he doesn't count. His career ended in 2007 (with Washington, ironically).

11
by Travis :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 10:48am

McCardell injured his knee in the 1991 preseason and spent the entire year on injured reserve. Not sure if that's enough to count.

18
by Intropy :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 9:55pm

Counts for me. Players on IR are still teammates.

22
by Theo :: Fri, 04/20/2012 - 3:53am

not on active roster

13
by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 10:53am

Going back even further than that, Green would be the last one left from the 1987 roster.

27
by AT (not verified) :: Sat, 04/21/2012 - 9:55am

Going back even further (and including SB runners up), Green would be the last one left from the 1983 roster as well. Amazingly long career, especially for a DB.

10
by Dr. Last Four-Rings Standing (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 10:40am

Not counting Chuck Noll and other coaches, of course, my memory is that John Stallworth was for several years the last of the Super Bowl IX Steelers still playing. But I haven't verified this.

12
by Travis :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 10:51am

Stallworth retired after 1987, as did Donnie Shell. Mike Webster played through 1990, and his last year with the Steelers was 1988.

15
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 11:36am

If we go with Super Bowl losers, the 1999 Titans had Derrick Mason, and the 1998 Falcons had Keith Brooking on the Super Bowl roster. The 1997 Packers had Ryan Longwell and the 1996 Patriots had Adam Vinatieri. I haven't been able to find anyone before that.

16
by bengt (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 11:55am

At around the 2003-2005 seasons, the numbers appear to go up rapidly. What I remember:
From the 2005 team Roethlisberger and Miller on O, Hampton, Keisel, Foote, Polamalu, Taylor on D, and Warren on special teams are still with the Steelers. Hope is now with the Titans. Until two months ago Kemoeatu, Starks, Ward, Smith, Hoke, Farrior and McFadden still were on the team. Faneca, Simmons, Parker, Townshend and Reed played/tried to play until 2010. Foote and McFadden each played one year with another team.

19
by Intropy :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 9:57pm

Aw yeah, Greg Warren. Any exclusive long-snappers in the HOF?

21
by Jerry :: Fri, 04/20/2012 - 3:12am

When you need a laugh, e-mail some HOF voters about which long snapper will be voted into the Hall first and see what kind of answers you get back.

23
by bengt (not verified) :: Fri, 04/20/2012 - 5:10am

Doug Pederson, super bowl winning clipboard holder, reminded me of Charlie Batch. Apologies.

17
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Thu, 04/19/2012 - 12:15pm

I wondered if anyone had gotten close to Duh! and remembered that Craig Hentrich was on that team, he was still active in 2009, so only fell a year short of the 2010 mark set by Duh!. Will Henderson made it to 2006 just one year short of the Duh! in 2007 with the Packers. So he had them both but it was closer than I expected.

I was surprised to see Doug Pederson making it to 2004 (back with the Packers after a stint in Cle and Phi (a 10 year career and 17 starts) I just forgot about him holding that clipboard. Adam Timmerman made it to 2006 as well, with St. Louis.

So I guess they had a few that made it 10 years or so.

I guess all that jives with the short careers. Even first round selections only average 9.3 years (or something like that, I've linked the data I had on that in the past). I think the average career of a player that makes at least one pro bowl is over 11 years though. Yeah 11.7 ( http://nflcommunications.com/2011/04/18/what-is-average-nfl-player%E2%80... ) the lock-out did bring some interesting data to the surface at least.

20
by td (not verified) :: Fri, 04/20/2012 - 2:25am

sean landeta played in the '86 sb and retired in 2006. he actually probably played in several usfl championship games before that

24
by Dean :: Fri, 04/20/2012 - 9:34am

There were only 3 USFL championship games, and I believe he played in all 3.

25
by Kellerman :: Fri, 04/20/2012 - 10:55am

It's not a huge oversight, but wasn't Wilfork a rookie in 2004 and therefore NOT on the 2003 Patriots? Also, from the Super Bowl losers side Darrell Green also played in SB XVIII following the 1983 season and lasted until 2002.

26
by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 04/20/2012 - 5:41pm

Yeah, Wilfork was drafted in '04. Ty Warren was the d-lineman drafted in '03, and I'm not sure of his status, since he's played all of one game the last two years.

28
by fmtemike :: Sun, 04/22/2012 - 6:09am

If youre counting IR, Matt Stover was with the 1990 NY football Giants, and still active in 2009.

29
by jeanneflor (not verified) :: Thu, 03/14/2013 - 2:48am

This is how we always make it and for sure things will be then fall into the right place.. I love it then and thanks much for what you've done. i like it.
Thanks,
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