Building the NFL's best over-30 team

I had an interesting conversation with Justin Tuck the other day about age and the NFL. He told me NFL teams think over-30 means, "done and stay away."

Tuck was emotional about it and made it clear to me that the over-30 crowd can still play, lead a team by example, and always bring a professional attitude. Well, I thought I would take a look at the best over-30 team I could put together and put it up against Pete Prisco’s under-30 team. In a one-season contest I like my chances against the young bucks.

I know this team can score points with that offense and the defensive roster had 35 forced fumbles and 32 interceptions last year. If my quarterbacks get an extra series or two this game won’t be close.  If you want to go a whole season I really like my depth. Justin Tuck was right when he said there are a whole bunch of good older players out there. Think about it for a second. How did a guy get to be an over-30 player? He got there because he was real good, smart and takes care of himself.

Quarterback: What an advantage the over-30 crowd has and it really is hard to pick the starter. My real choices were Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers. Those five guys threw 179 touchdowns in the 2013 regular season. I’ll go with the MVP Peyton Manning but Tom Brady is on the sideline waiting to go in.

Starter: Peyton Manning, Broncos (38)

Reserves: Tom Brady (36), Drew Brees (35)

Running back: The claim is never let a 30 year old in your backfield. Well, think again. My top choices are Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams, Fred Jackson and Darren Sproles. I’ll start Frank Gore but have Sproles ready for third down.

Starter: Frank Gore, 49ers (30)

Reserves: DeAngelo Williams (30), Darren Sproles (30)

Fitzgerald finished with double-digit TDs for fifth time in his career last season. (USATSI)
Fitzgerald finished with double-digit TDs for fifth time in his career last season. (USATSI)

Wide receiver: I found 10 receivers I would like on the ol’ boys team; Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson, Anquan Boldin, Roddy White, Wes Welker and Steve Smith. I can’t have them all but I’ll take Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall with Welker in the slot.

Starters: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (30) and Brandon Marshall, Bears (30)

Reserves: Wes Welker (32), Andre Johnson (32), Vincent Jackson (31)

Tight ends: With the firepower I have in this group we are going two tight ends and leaving the fullback on the bench. My top four are Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, Heath Miller and my favorite, Vernon Davis. Davis and Gates will start, so good luck matching up with my guys.

Starters: Vernon Davis, 49ers (30) and Antonio Gates, Chargers (33)

Reserves: Jason Witten (31), Heath Miller (31)

Joe Staley has anchored the 49ers OL since being drafted in 2007 out of Central Michigan. (USATSI)
Joe Staley has anchored the 49ers OL since being drafted in 2007 out of Central Michigan. (USATSI)

Offensive line: My tackles are Joe Staley and Michael Roos with D’Brickashaw Ferguson backing them up. The starting guards are Logan Mankins and Jahri Evans with Marshall Yanda on the sideline. The center is Nick Mangold and Nick Hardwick waiting his turn. This offensive line will have very little problem blocking the youngsters and protecting any of the quarterbacks I put on the field.

Starting tackles: Joe Staley, 49ers (30), Michael Roos, Titans (31)

Reserves: D'Brickashaw Ferguson (30)

Starting guards: Logan Mankins, Patriots (32) , Jahri Evans, Saints (30)

Reserves: Marshall Yanda (30)

Starting center: Nick Mangold, Jets (30)

Reserve: Nick Hardwick, Chargers (32)

Defensive ends: My top three ends had 42 sacks between them and it’s tough to pick between Robert Mathis, Jared Allen and John Abraham. Abraham sits out the opening drive but he could come off the bench. I just couldn’t find a spot for Julius Peppers. Cameron Wake, or Trent Cole.

Starters: Robert Mathis, Colts (33) and Jared Allen, Bears (32)

Reserves: John Abraham, Cardinals (35)

Haloti Ngata has 23.5 career sacks with the Ravens. (USATSI)
Haloti Ngata has 23.5 career sacks with the Ravens. (USATSI)

Defensive tackles: Good luck running the ball against Haloti Ngata and Vince Wilfork with 700 lbs. of beef inside. When they need a rest or its time to rush the passer I have to decide between Kyle Williams, Justin Tuck and Darnell Dockett. Those three had 26 sacks between them last year.

Starters: Haloti Ngata, Ravens (30) and Vince Wilfork, Patriots (32)

Reserves: Kyle Williams, Bills (30), Justin Tuck, Raiders (31) and Darnell Dockett, Cardinals (32)

Outside linebackers: Tell me what you would do if you had to pick between Tamba Hali, Terrell Suggs, Shaun Phillips, Chad Greenway, and Ahmed Brooks? I put Hali and Suggs on the field because of their 21 sacks but I would use the others during the game.

Starters: Tamba Hali, Chiefs (30) and Terrell Suggs, Ravens (31)

Reserves: Shaun Phillips, free agent (32), Chad Greenway, Vikings (31) and Ahmad Brooks, 49ers (30)

Inside linebackers: Nothing like having a savvy veteran or two who have seen it all and can make any adjustment. Karlos Dansby, Derrick Johnson, Lance Briggs, David Harris Thomas Davis, Kevin Burnett and A.J. Hawk are all candidates but to start the game I’ll go with Dansby and Johnson.

Starters: Karlos Dansby, Browns (32) and Derrick Johnson, Chiefs (31)

Reserves: Lance Briggs, Bears (33) and David Harris, Jets (30)

Cornerbacks:  Not a lot of over-30 corners who I like but I’ll have no problem with Brent Grimes and Charles Tillman out there. Corey Graham, DeAngelo Hall and Ike Taylor are waiting their turn on the bench.

Starters: Charles Tillman, Bears  (33) and Brent Grimes, Dolphins (30)

Reserves: DeAngelo Hall, Redskins (30), Ike Taylor, Steelers (33)

Safeties: Guys who play safety for 10 years may lose a step but they can read a quarterbackand get him to do things a young safety hasn’t even though of yet. My starters for the clash of the young and old will be Troy Polamalu and Antrel Rolle. If I want to go "big nickel" and bring an extra safety, Dashon Goldson and LaRon Landry are available.

Starters: Antrel Rolle, Giants (31) and Troy Polamalu, Steelers (32)

Reserves: Dashon Goldson, Buccaneers (30) and LaRon Landry, Colts (30)

Special teams: Stephen Gostkowski just turned 30 and he was five for six on 50+ attempts but I could always call up Vinateri or any number of the kickers. Jon Ryan, punter for the Seahawks, only allowed 21 returns for a total of 82 yards the whole season and 28 punts inside the 20. Devin Hester can handle the returns with his 13 for touchdowns over his career.

Starters: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (30), Jon Ryan, Seahawks (32), Devin Hester, Falcons (31)

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