Football is one of the most physically-demanding sports in the world, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the players that have enjoyed the longest NFL careers of all-time. They defied father time and overcame the physical demands year after year, all while performing at a high level.
Most players would sacrifice anything to have a good game, let alone a good season. Those with the longest NFL careers didn’t just have a good year, they had a good two decades and likely could’ve kept playing if they didn’t have other goals and responsibilities outside of football.
Let’s be honest, staying dedicated to any one thing for 20 years is easier said than done. And the fact that some NFL players do it during their prime years – when they can literally be doing whatever they want – is even more incredible. It’s worth celebrating and that’s what we’ll do.
Which Players Have the Longest NFL Careers?
Many football fans might be wondering which players have the longest NFL careers of all-time. It’s not something that gets discussed often, but games played is a valuable statistic that shows how dependable a player is – after all, you wouldn’t last long in the NFL if you weren’t good.
With that said, we’re going to take a look at the top-20 longest NFL careers in terms of regular season games played. Some of the names might surprise you, but others probably won’t. In fact, one is currently active and six others are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
What’s even more interesting is that only three of the players among the top-20 longest NFL careers spent their entire career with one team and six others spent their careers with two teams. Continuity is rare in the NFL – not just among players, but coaches and front office.
20. Jim Marshall – 282 games
Jim Marshall is a retired defensive end that spent 19 years in the league – 18 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and one with the Cleveland Browns, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 1960 NFL Draft. He played in 282 career regular season games and 19 playoff games.
Marshall finished his career with 130.5 sacks, 30 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 1 defensive touchdown, and 1 safety. He made two Pro Bowl appearances and won the NFL Championship with the Vikings in 1969. He had four seasons of more than 10 sacks, including 14.0 in 1969.
19. Sean Landeta – 284 games
Sean Landeta is a retired punter that spent 21 years in the NFL – nine with the Giants, six with the Rams, five with the Eagles, one with the Packers, and one with the Buccaneers. He played in 284 career regular season games and 18 playoff games. He’s one of the best of the best.
Landeta finished his career with 1,401 punts for 60,707 yards. His longest punt was 74 yards and he averaged 43.3 yards per punt in his career. He was a two-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, two-time Super Bowl champion, and a member of the HOF All-1980s and 1990s teams.
18. Sebastian Janikowski – 284 games
Sebastian Janikowski is a retired kicker that spent 18 years in the league – 17 seasons with the Oakland Raiders and one with the Seattle Seahawks. The Raiders drafted him 17th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft. He played in 284 career regular season games and nine playoff games.
During his career, Janikowski made 436/542 field goals (80.4%) and 605/614 extra points (98.5%). His longest field goal was 63 yards, which was a record at one point. He made 58 career field goals over 50 yards and even hit a 61-yard field goal two years before hitting 63.
17. Shane Lechler – 286 games
Shane Lechler is a retired punter that spent 18 years in the league – 13 with the Raiders and five with the Houston Texans. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Raiders in the same draft as Janikowski (2000). He would go on to play 286 regular season games and 10 playoff games.
Lechler finished his career with 1,444 punts for 68,676 yards and was only blocked five times. His longest punt was 80 yards and he averaged 47.6 yards per punt. He was a seven-time Pro Bowl honoree, six-time All-Pro, and is a member of both the HOF 2000s and 2010s teams.
16. Drew Brees – 287 games
Drew Brees is a retired quarterback that spent 20 years in the league – five with the San Diego Chargers and 15 more with the New Orleans Saints. He was drafted by the Chargers in the second round of the 2001 draft. He played 287 regular season games and 18 playoff games.
Brees is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play. He finished his career with a 172-114 record, 7,142 completions, 80,358 yards, 571 passing touchdowns, 25 rushing touchdowns, and 243 interceptions. He won a Super Bowl, was a 13-time Pro Bowler, and a one-time All-Pro.
15. Darrell Green – 295 games
Darrell Green is a Hall of Fame cornerback that spent 20 seasons in the league – all with the Washington Commanders (then-Redskins). They drafted him with the 28th overall pick in 1983 and never regretted it. He played in 295 career regular season games and 18 playoff games.
Green finished his career with 1,202 tackles, 1.0 sack, 5 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, 54 interceptions, and 8 defensive touchdowns. He was a 7-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion that caught six interceptions and had two defensive touchdowns in the playoffs.
14. Bruce Matthews – 296 games
Bruce Matthews is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman that spent 19 seasons in the league – all with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. They drafted him with the ninth overall pick in 1983. He played in 296 career regular season games (229 consecutive starts) and 15 playoff games.
Matthews didn’t miss a single game between 1988 and 2001, which is difficult to do as an offensive lineman. During that time, he was a Pro Bowl honoree every single year and was also named an All-Pro seven times. He’s the father of former Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews.
13. Matt Stover – 297 games
Matt Stover is a retired kicker that spent 19 years in the league – 13 seasons with the Ravens, five with the Browns, and one with the Colts. He was drafted by the Giants in the 12th round of the 1990 NFL Draft. He played in 297 career regular season games and 16 playoff games.
During his career, Stover made 471 of 563 field goals (83.7%) and 591 of 594 extra points (99.5%). His longest field goal was 55 yards and he hit 13 career field goals over 50 yards. He was a one-time Pro Bowl honoree, one-time All-Pro, and even won a Super Bowl in 2000.
12. John Kasay – 301 games
John Kasay is a retired kicker that spent 20 years in the league – 15 with the Panthers, four with the Seahawks, and one with the Saints. He was drafted by the Seahawks in the fourth round of the 1991 NFL Draft. He played 301 regular season games and 12 playoff games.
During his career, Kasay made 461 of 563 field goals (81.9%) and 587 of 598 extra points (98.2%). His longest field goal was from 56 yards out and he made 42 field goals from at least 50 yards out. He was a one-time Pro Bowl honoree that led the NFL in field goals made in 1996.
11. Brett Favre – 302 games
Brett Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback that spent 20 years in the NFL – 16 with the Packers, two with the Vikings, one with the Falcons, and one with the Jets. He was drafted by the Falcons in the second round in 1991. He played in 302 regular season games and 24 playoff games.
Favre finished his career with a 186-112 record, 6,300 completions, 71,838 yards, 508 passing touchdowns, 14 rushing touchdowns, and 336 interceptions. He won three-straight MVP awards between 1995 and 1997. He was also MVP runner-up two other times and won a Super Bowl.
10. John Carney – 302 games
John Carney is a retired kicker that spent 23 seasons in the NFL – 11 with the Chargers, eight with the Saints, two with the Buccaneers, and one with the Jaguars, Chiefs, Giants, and Rams. He went undrafted in 1987, but played 302 regular season games and nine playoff games.
During his career, Carney made 478 of 580 field goals (82.4%) and 628 of 638 extra points (98.4%). His longest field goal was from 54 yards out and he made 21 career field goals from beyond 50 yards. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and led the league in field goals made in 1994.
9. Jerry Rice – 303 games
Jerry Rice is a Hall of Fame wide receiver that spent 20 years in the league – 16 with the 49ers, four with the Raiders, and one with the Seahawks. He was drafted by the 49ers with the 16th overall pick in 1985. He played in 303 career regular season games and 29 playoff games.
Rice finished his career with 1,549 receptions, 22,895 yards, 197 receiving touchdowns, and 10 rushing touchdowns. He was a 13-time Pro Bowl honoree, 10-time All-Pro, and three-time Super Bowl champion. He also added 151 receptions, 2,245 yards, and 22 touchdowns in the playoffs.
8. Phil Dawson – 305 games
Phil Dawson is a retired kicker that spent 20 seasons in the league – 14 with the Browns, four with the 49ers, and two with the Cardinals. He went undrafted in 1998 out of the University of Texas, but wound up playing in 305 career regular season games and just five playoff games.
During his career, Dawson made 441 of 526 field goals (83.8%) and 518 of 531 extra points (97.6%). His longest field goal was 57 yards out and he made 42 of 60 field goals from beyond 50 yards. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2012, his final season with the Cleveland Browns.
7. Tom Brady – 318 games
Tom Brady is an active quarterback that has spent the past 22 seasons in the NFL – 20 with the Patriots and the past two seasons with the Buccaneers. He was a seventh round pick by the Patriots in 2000. He has played in 318 career regular season games and 47 playoff games.
Brady enters the 2022-23 season with a 243-73 record, 7,263 completions, 84,520 yards, 624 passing touchdowns, 27 rushing touchdowns, and just 203 interceptions. He holds a majority of the all-time quarterback records and has more Super Bowl wins (7) than any other franchise.
6. Jason Hanson – 327 games
Jason Hanson is a retired kicker that spent 21 seasons in the league – all with the Detroit Lions. He was drafted by the team in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft. He would end up playing in 327 career regular season games and just six playoff games. He last played in 2012.
During his illustrious and long career, Hanson made 495 of 601 field goals (82.4%) and 665 of 673 extra point attempts (98..8%). His longest field goal was from 56 yards out and he made 52 of 93 field goals from beyond 50 yards. He was a two-time Pro Bowl honoree in 1997 and 1999.
5. George Blanda – 340 games
George Blanda is a Hall of Fame quarterback and kicker that spent 26 seasons in the NFL – 10 with the Bears, nine with the Raiders, and seven with the Oilers. He was drafted by the Bears in the 12th round of the 1949 draft. He played 340 regular season games and 20 playoff games.
Blanda finished his career with a 53-50-1 record, 26,920 passing yards, 236 touchdowns, and 277 interceptions. He also made 335 of 639 field goals (52.4%) and 943 of 959 extra points (98.3%). His longest field goal was 55 yards and he even won three AFL Championships.
4. Jeff Feagles – 352 games
Jeff Feagles is a retired punter that spent 22 seasons in the league – seven with the Giants, five with the Seahawks, four with the Cardinals, four with the Eagles, and two with the Patriots. He went undrafted in 1988, but wound up playing 352 regular season games and 11 playoff games.
Feagles currently holds the record for most consecutive regular season games played, having never missed a game in his life. He finished his career with 1,713 punts for 71,211 yards with his longest punt going 77 yards. He was a two-time Pro Bowl honoree and Super Bowl champion.
3. Gary Anderson – 353 games
Gary Anderson is a retired kicker that spent 23 seasons in the league – 13 with the Steelers, five with the Vikings, two with the Eagles, two with the Titans, and one with the 49ers. He was a seventh round draft pick, but went on to play 353 regular season games and 22 playoff games.
During his career, Anderson made 538 of 672 field goals (80.1%) and 820 of 827 extra points (99.2%). His longest field goal was from 55 yards out and he made 12 of 40 field goals from beyond 50 yards out. In 1998, he made 35 of 35 field goals and 59 of 59 extra point attempts.
2. Adam Vinatieri – 365 games
Adam Vinatieri is a retired kicker that spent 24 seasons in the league – 14 with the Indianapolis Colts and 10 more with the New England Patriots. He went undrafted in the 1996 draft out of South Dakota State, but went on to play 365 regular season games and 32 playoff games.
During his career, Vinatieri made 599 of 715 field goals (83.8%) and 874 of 898 extra points (97.3%). His longest field goal came from 57 yards out and he made 45 of 72 field goals from beyond 50 yards out. He won four Super Bowls – one with the Colts in three with the Patriots.
1. Morten Andersen – 382 games
Morten Andersen is a Hall of Fame kicker that spent 25 seasons in the league – 13 with the Saints, eight with the Falcons, two with the Chiefs, and one with the Vikings and Giants. He was a fourth round draft pick that went on to play 382 regular season games and 11 playoff games.
During his long and illustrious career, Andersen made 565 of 709 field goals (79.7%) and 849 of 859 extra point attempts (98.8%). His longest field goal came from 60 yards out and he made 40 of 84 field goals from beyond 50 yards away. Andersen was a seven-time Pro Bowl honoree.
Which Active Players Have the Longest NFL Careers?
There was only one active player listed among the top-20 longest NFL careers and that’s Tom Brady. After what looked like the end of his career just a few months ago, Brady shocked the world by coming out of retirement to play another season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With that said, Andy Lee is just two games away from cracking the top-20 and he’ll achieve that feat in 2022 as he’s slated to be the team’s starting punter for the sixth straight year. If he plays a full season this year, he’ll have 297 games played – which would tie him for 13th all-time.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 15 of the Worst Sports Injuries of All-Time
Not only that, but Larry Fitzgerald, Sam Koch, Dustin Colquitt, L.P. Ladouceur, Robbie Gould, and Mason Crosby are all within a few seasons (under 40 games) from cracking the top-20. If they continue their careers, they’ll retire with some of the longest NFL careers ever.
At The Buzzer, or ATB is the place for those who love sports, life, family, community, and so much more. We are far from the run-of-the-mill 24/7 sports news websites. We not only bring you what’s happening in the world of sports in terms of trades and breaking news, but we also bring you the news that goes on behind the scenes, like big life moments, and so much more. So take a minute and read one of our articles, we promise you won't regret it.