Adrian Peterson, take a bow.
The newly signed Washington Redskins running back and 11-year veteran threw some shade at critics who suggested that he is too old to be in the NFL.
He had the guts to say what is on the mind of most 30-somethings still making a living in football, despite being well past their best before dates.
“(Critics that say I’ve slowed down) shows me that people don’t really know about football,” Peterson said, according to NFL.com’s Herbie Teope. “Because I feel like people that know the game of football, they know different situations the player might be in. So when people go back and say ‘oh, 3.4 yards a carry,’ there’s a lot that contributes to that as well. So I just brush it off and continue to work because at the end of the day, I control my output.”
You tell ’em, Adrian.
Peterson is but one of many NFLers who can still bring it after their prime. We have compiled a list of Most Important Senior Citizens (MISC) from every NFL team, with the caveat that are past 30 and didn’t just get to that milestone this year. Here they are, with honorable mentions in italics.
Arizona Cardinals – WR Larry Fitzgerald
When Sam Bradford throws his first passes as an Arizona Cardinal for real on Sept. 9, it is likely the target of at least one of them will be 34-year-old wideout and MISC Fitzgerald. One of the league’s most durable players will line up for his 219th game, all of which have been played in Cardinals’ red and white. In 14 seasons, the 2004 third overall pick has missed just six games. And in 2017, when he was 34 (he’ll be 35 when the 2018 season starts), Fitzgerald amassed over 1,000 yards receiving for the ninth time in his career. An 11-time Pro Bowler and one time All-Pro, Fitzgerald caught 109 passes for 1,156 yards and six touchdowns, not bad for a relative geezer. As of this writing, he is third on the all-time list with 15,545 yards, needing just 389 yards to pass Terrell Owens for second on the list. He is a surefire Hall of Famer, in our opinion. Honorable mentions: G Mike Iupati (31), S Antoine Bethea (34), K Phil Dawson (43).
Atlanta Falcons – QB Matt Ryan
There are few MISCs on this list with Ryan’s pedigree and star power. At 33, the Falcons quarterback is coming off his seventh straight season with over 4,000 yards passing. Like Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, he has played with just one team since being taken third overall (2008). And he’s sturdy like Fitz, too, having missed just two starts in 10 seasons. In that time, he has thrown for 41,976 yards, which puts him 16th all-time. As well, Matty Ice has thrown for 260 TDs, which is 18th best, against only 126 interceptions. The 2016 NFL MVP is also as precise a passer as they come, having led the NFL in completion percentage at 68.6 percent in 2012 and holding a career mark of 64.9. As a measure of his longevity and durability, in 2016 Ryan passed for a career high 4,944 yards, with 38 TD strikes and just seven interceptions, all at the age of 31. Another one destined for Canton. Honorable mentions: C Alex Mack (32), DE Brooks Reed (31), S Ron Parker (31), K Matt Bryant (43).
Baltimore Ravens – QB Joe Flacco
It is no coincidence that yet another quarterback gets our vote for MISC. The current cadre of elite signal callers have been as durable — or more so — than any other era in football. Flacco, who won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2012, is another homegrown, drafted 15 places behind Matt Ryan in 2008 (18th overall) by Baltimore. And in case we haven’t beat this drum enough, he has missed only six of 160 games so far. While he is not as prolific a passer as Ryan, the 6’6″ giant does have that championship ring. His totals are decidedly more modest, coming in at 35,780 yards (25th all-time) and 200 touchdowns (42nd overall). However, he has never had a receiver like Julio Jones or even Mohamed Sanu to fling bombs to either. Honorable mentions: OT Marshal Yanda (33), LB Albert McClellan (32), CB Brandon Carr (32), LB Terrell Suggs (35), S Eric Weddle.
Buffalo Bills – DT Kyle Williams
Buffalo breaks the string here of huff-and-puff offensive stars, with five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams taking the MISC mantle. It is kind of a tribute that all their offensive catalysts are 30 or under, in our opinion. For his part, the 35-year-old Williams, a career-long Bill since being drafted 134th overall in 2006, has been a stalwart on the Bills defensive front four. Playing a rough-and-tumble position, Williams hasn’t missed much time either, spending 25 games on the DL out of 192. In 2017, at the age of 34, Williams started all 16 games and registered 41 tackles, 3.0 sacks and two pass deflections. Over his 12-season career, the LSU product has 576 tackles, 43.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, 11 pass deflections and an interception. Honorable mentions: LB Lorenzo Alexander (35), LB Ramon Humber (31), K Stephen Hauschka.
Carolina Panthers – DE Julius Peppers
Even amongst this cast of long in tooth NFLers, Julius Peppers is an elder statesman. At 38 he is one of the oldest on this list and it’s a tribute to him that he is still grinding it out on the Panthers defensive front. Drafted second overall by Carolina in 2002, he spent his first eight years with the Panthers, then spent four in Chicago and three in Green Bay before coming full circle in a return to Carolina in 2017. He is so old that Rodney Peete was the quarterback in his first year. What makes Peppers a MISC is that he was as good a player in 2017 as he was in his rookie year, when he won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. He had 12 sacks and 35 tackles then and last year had 11 sacks and 33 tackles. In between has been nothing short of magnificent, piling up 154.5 career sacks to sit fourth all-time with a shot at passing Kevin Greene, who had 160 before retiring. Even more impressive is that Peppers has missed just six games in 16 seasons. Honorable mentions: TE Greg Olsen (33), C Ryan Kalil (33), LB Thomas Davis (35), S Mike Adams (37), K Graham Gano (31).
Chicago Bears – TE Zach Miller
Other than 33-year-old tight end Miller, the Bears are a decidedly youthful squad, with only one other player on the roster over 30 and that is little used QB Chase Daniel, who doesn’t get an honorable mention. For that matter, Miller would barely rate a mention on any other team here, especially since he is on the PUP list after signing a one-year contract. However, he does get the Bears nod not only for some decent production into his 30s, but for the ribbing he must take in training camp where he is no doubt known as “gramps” and “fossil.” The Wahoo, NE native played sparingly with Jacksonville after they drafted him 180th overall in 2009 and a move to Chicago paid dividends. In 2015 and 2016 he caught 83 total passes for 925 yards and nine touchdowns in 25 games. He suffered a devastating knee injury in 2017 and is still recovering.
Cincinnati Bengals – QB Andy Dalton
The Bengals must be team Peach Fuzz. Only punter Kevin Huber is over 30, clocking in at 33. Dalton, however, qualifies as Cincinnati’s MISC because he will be 31 mid-season (Oct. 29 to be exact). Thus, he is one of the youngest old dogs here, even though it feels to us that he has been playing much longer in the NFL than seven seasons. The three-time Pro Bowler is a homegrown, too, and very sturdy, missing just three contests out of 112 in his career. He’s been consistently good as well, throwing for over 4,000 yards in a season twice and 25,534 total (69th best all-time). Adding to those totals he has 167 touchdown passes against 93 interceptions. The only blemish on an otherwise good career has been an absence of playoff success. He is 0-4 in four starts in the post-season, with one TD pass and six interceptions. But, he still has time to right those wrongs.
Cleveland Browns – QB Drew Stanton
Just like state rival Cincinnati, Cleveland has gone on a youth kick, featuring just three players over the age of 30 and one of them is punter Britton Colquitt (33). Stanton, pretty much a career back-up, is the greybeard of the Browns pivot pack, clocking in at a team high 34 years old. A star at Michigan State, he was drafted 43rd overall by his home state Detroit Lions and lasted three seasons there before going to Indianapolis for one forgettable campaign and then the last four with Arizona. He saw his most action with the Cards, throwing for 2,901 yards in 26 games, 13 of them starts. He tossed 15 touchdowns and was intercepted 15 times too. He is in a battle with much younger Baker Mayfield (23) for the back-up job, which coach Hue Jackson said might be Stanton’s to lose before the season starts in earnest.
Dallas Cowboys – LB Sean Lee
The Cowboys just might be the youngest team in the NFL. Not one position player on offence is 30 or over and only one on defence is, seven-year pro Sean Lee. Relative to other players on this list, Lee is a spring chicken at 32 and gets our MISC by default, especially since Jason Witten retired. However, he earns it, based on his outstanding career so far. Drafted 55th overall out of Penn State, Lee has been a mainstay on the Dallas D for seven seasons, going to the Pro Bowl twice and being named First Team All-Pro in 2016. He’s had a few injury issues, but few avid tacklers like him ever escape the DL completely. In 11 games last year, he made 101 tackles and over his 86-game career has 658 total. Lee has added 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, 25 pass deflections and 13 interceptions, two for touchdowns.
Denver Broncos – WR Emmanuel Sanders
For a guy drafted well down (82nd overall) in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Emmanuel Sanders has had a fairly outstanding career. A spot starter in Pittsburgh, he became a free agent in 2014 and signed with the Broncos. And that’s when his career took off. In his first three seasons in the Mile High City, Sanders had over 1,000 yards receiving, with a high of 1,404 in 2014, his first year making the Pro Bowl. He was also named to the Pro Bowl in 2016. Last year was a bit of down year for the 31-year-old MISC, as the quarterbacking carousel of Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch failed to target him enough. After four straight seasons of well over 100 targets, he was thrown to only 92 times in 12 games last year. He caught 47 of those passes for 555 yards and just two TDs. Over his eight-year career, Sanders has 6,156 receiving yards and 33 TDs. With Case Keenum at the helm this year, he should get back to normal. Honorable mentions: OT Jared Veldheer (31), DT Clinton McDonald (31), DT Domata Peko Sr. (33).
Detroit Lions – RB LeGarrette Blount
If we haven’t already mentioned it, playing past 30 in the NFL is tough, given all the explosive contact and chance of career-ending injury. Running backs, especially, have very short career arcs, so when a 31-year-old guy like LeGarrette Blount is still kicking around, it is admirable. Even more impressive about Blount is that he was undrafted out of Oregon, signing with Tennessee in 2010 but waived and ending up in Tampa Bay instead. That first season was memorable, as the Florida native rushed for 1,007 yards in 13 games, only seven of them starts. He would post fair numbers over the next five seasons with Tampa, New England and Pittsburgh and then explode again with the Patriots in 2016. He had his second 1,000-yards plus campaign, running for 1,161 yards and a NFL high 18 touchdowns. Success has also followed Blount around, as he’s won three titles, two with New England and one last year with Philadelphia. He’s been a scoring machine in the post-season, with 11 TDs in 11 games, including a 21-yard scamper last year against his old club in the Super Bowl. Honorable mentions: QB Matt Cassel (36), K Matt Prater (34).
Green Bay Packers – QB Aaron Rodgers
A return to full health by Rodgers should leave Packers fans pretty pleased about the upcoming season. The 34-year-old Packers MISC and two-time NFL MVP played only seven games for Green Bay in 2017, a lost year where the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Drafted 24th overall by the Pack in 2005, Rodgers apprenticed and played very sparingly for three seasons and won the starting job in 2008. Since then, he’s been a superstar, leading the Packers to a championship in 2010 and five NFC North titles. He is among the all-time leaders in career passing yards with 38,502 (20th) and touchdowns at 313 (10th). An accurate passer with a cannon for an arm, Rodgers has only been intercepted 78 times in 149 games. The two-time All-Pro has been just as effective in the post-season, sitting eighth in passing yards with 4,458 in 17 games, and fifth in TDs with 36. Honorable mentions: TE Marcedes Lewis (34), TE Jimmy Graham (31), LB Clay Matthews (32), CB Tramon Williams (35), K Mason Crosby (33).
Houston Texans – P Shane Lechler
Yes, you may be as surprised as us that a punter is a team’s MISC. However, Shane Lechler has proven that age is just a number. He is the second oldest player so honored here, at the ripe old age of 42. He was drafted 142nd overall by Oakland in 2000 and has been a starting punter ever since. He has been to seven Pro Bowls and been named First Team All-Pro six times. It’s interesting to note that the place kicker on that Raiders team in 2000 was Sebastian Janikowski, who is still attempting to hoof it with Seattle. Lechler has led the NFL in punt yards four times, including 2017, when the then 41-year-old punted 92 times for 4,507 yards. More importantly, he has been tops in the league in yards per punt five times and owns a career average of 47.6 yards. Now, we know that too many punts means the offence isn’t clicking well, however, without a solid kicker to do it, can also have its drawbacks. Honorable mentions: QB Brandon Weeden (34), CB Johnathan Joseph (34).
Indianapolis Colts – K Adam Vinatieri
And the winner of the oldest MISC award goes to Adam Vinatieri. Keeping in the vein of golden boots as seen with aged punter Shane Lechler in Houston, ageless wonder Vinatieri is still bombing field goals at 45. In fact, the Colts kicker nailed a 57-yarder in a pre-season game on Aug. 20 that had Twitter all agog. Vinatieri has been around so long, the quarterback in his rookie season with New England was Drew Bledsoe and Bill Belichick was a new assistant coach. Automatic Adam, a South Dakota native and grad of the state university, wasn’t automatic in the 1996 draft, going unsigned and inking a deal with New England. He got the job with the Pats that year and has been a full-time kicker since. And what a career he has had. He is a four-time Super Bowl champ and three-time First Team All-Pro. He has led the NFL in field goal completion percentage three times and is 56-for-68 in the post-season. Lastly, Vinatieri is second only to Morten Andersen in points scored with 2,487. Honorable mentions: DT Margus Hunt (31) and DT Al Woods (31).
Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Calais Campbell
The Jags are another one of those teams with very few greybeards, with 31-year-old three-time Pro Bowler and 2017 First Team All-Pro Calais Campbell as one of just two 30-something “old guys” on the Jacksonville roster. Campbell had a whale of a season with Jacksonville after moving over from Arizona, where he played the first nine seasons of his career. The Jags MISC was second overall in sacks with a career best 14.5 last year, along with 67 tackles, three forced fumbles and three pass deflections. The Miami Hurricanes product has been very durable too, missing only six games in 10 seasons. Overall, the three-time Pro Bowler has 563 tackles, 71 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 45 pass defences and three interceptions. Honorable mention: OT Jeremy Parnell (32).
Kansas City Chiefs – CB Orlando Scandrick
Alex Smith, who would easily have been the Chiefs’ MISC, is in D.C. So the award goes to longtime NFL cornerback and new Chief Orlando Scandrick. Drafted 143rd overall by Dallas in 2008, he had to percolate as a spot starter for five seasons before becoming a starting corner in 2013. The 31-year-old seized on that opportunity, starting 15 of 16 games and recording a career high 64 tackles, with two sacks and a career best 13 pass deflections. He was released this past spring by the Cowboys and finished with 422 tackles, 11.5 sacks, eight interceptions and 63 pass defences. After signing a two-year deal with the Washington Redskins, he was released on Aug. 14 and signed a reasonable one-year, $1.5 million deal with K.C. The veteran is being switched to outside corner after playing inside most of his career. Honorable mentions: QB Chad Henne (33), LB Frank Zombo (31) and P Dustin Colquitt (36).
Los Angeles Chargers – QB Philip Rivers
Rivers is easily the Chargers MISC, clocking in a 36 and one of just five players over 30 on a youthful Chargers squad. Drafted fourth overall by the New York Giants in 2004 and was swapped right away for another still active QB, some guy named Eli Manning (who was taken first overall by the Chargers, who he said he wouldn’t play with). Rivers was a great consolation prize, despite the lack of playoff success relative to Manning’s in New York. Rivers apprenticed under another great pivot for his first two seasons, Drew Brees (who he is still friends with) and assumed the starter’s role in 2006. Since then, Rivers has never missed a game, making 192 straight starts. And he has never mailed it in, leading the NFL at various times in completions (437 at the age of 34 in 2015), completion percentage, yards, touchdowns (34 in 2008) and yards per attempt (three times). Rivers has been to seven Pro Bowls, his seventh in 2017, when he threw for 4,515 yards, his second best season in that category. Honorable mention: NT Brandon Mebane (33).
Los Angeles Rams – CB Aqib Talib
Talib, 32, gets the Rams MISC award over fellow newcomer Ndamukong Suh, based on his recent play. Talib was a Pro Bowler in each of the last five seasons, one with New England four with Denver, as well as a First Team All-Pro selection in 2016. In 10 seasons before being dealt to the Rams in March, Talib registered 430 tackles, a sack, four forced fumbles, 117 pass deflections and 34 interceptions (10 returned for touchdowns). He has 33 tackles and eight pass defences in eight playoff games and won a Super Bowl with Denver in 2015. At age 31 with Denver in 2017, Talib returned an interception for an incredible 103-yard touchdown. The outspoken and at times controversial Talib will be a nice addition to a Rams team on the upswing — that is if he doesn’t slap opposing receivers around like he did to former Raiders wideout Michael Crabtree last year, earning him a one-game suspension. Honorable mentions: Suh (31), C John Sullivan (33) and OT Andrew Whitworth (36).
Miami Dolphins – RB Frank Gore
For 13 seasons, 10 with San Francisco and three with Indianapolis, running back Frank Gore was quietly one of the most durable and successful running backs in the NFL. A five-time Pro Bowler, he missed just 13 games and has started every one of 96 games that last six seasons. For that, we give the 35-year-old new Dolphin the MISC award. Nine times in his career Gore has rushed for over 1,000 yards, narrowly missing that plateau with the Colts last year with 961 yards. In 196 career NFL contests, Gore has run for 14,026 yards and 77 touchdowns. He is also a good backfield pass-catching threat, snaring 443 total passes for 3,672 yards and 17 more scores in 13 seasons. In eight playoff games, Gore had 813 combined yards and five touchdowns, all with San Francisco. Gore goes to Miami on a one-year deal and is competing with six other running backs for a starting job, most of who are 10 years or more his junior. Honorable mentions: WR Danny Amendola (32), G Ted Larsen (31), G Josh Sitton (32), DE William Hayes (33) and DE Cameron Wake (36).
Minnesota Vikings – DE Brian Robison
Going into his 12th season, Robison is our choice for Minnesota’s MISC. The 35-year-old Texan and University of Texas product is the longest tenured Viking, having been drafted 102nd overall by Minnesota in 2007. The sturdy defensive end has missed just three of 176 games and started 103 in 11 seasons. In 2017 he had to take a back seat, starting only once in 15 games, making 20 tackles and recording four of his career 60 sacks and two of his 20 pass defences. Though he has never been a Pro Bowler, Robison has been a productive and athletic member of the Viking’s defensive line. He’s also a team guy, and knowing his skills may not be what they once were, took a pay cut from $3.2 million to just over $1 million just to keep playing into his late 30s. Honorable mention: CB Terence Newman (39).
New England Patriots – QB Tom Brady
If there was to be a MISC Hall of Fame, Tom Terrific would be entered first ballot, no question. Now 41, his birthday was Aug. 3, the three-time MVP and five-time champion has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down. At an age when former bright lights sit in TV studios and analyze the game, Brady led the NFL in passing yards last year with 4,577 yards, the third such time he has done so in his Hall of Fame worthy 18-year career. Aside from 2008, when he played just one game, and 2000, when he was a fourth-string rookie and appeared in just one tilt, Brady has missed only five games out of a possible 256. It isn’t inconceivable that he could play until he’s 50, he’s so fit. In career terms, Brady is fourth in all-time passing yards (66,159), third in TD passes (488), first in playoff passing yards (10,226, almost 3,000 more than Peyton Manning) and playoff touchdown passes (71). He’s the GOAT, in our humble opinion. Honorable mentions: WR Eric Decker (31), WR Julian Edelman (32), CB Jason McCourty (31), S Devin McCourty (31) and K Stephen Gostkowski (34).
New Orleans Saints – QB Drew Brees
If he had a couple more NFL titles to add to his lone Super Bowl championship in 2009, Brees would eclipse Tom Brady as our GOAT. As it stands, the prolific passer will probably pass Peyton Manning for the career lead in passing yards, as he has 70,445, which is 1,495 yards short of Manning’s 71,940. Seven times the 39-year-old pivot has led the NFL in passing yards, including three straight seasons from 2014 to 2016. A two-time Offensive Player of the Year, Brees holds five of the top individual season passing yards records. The 5,476 yard season he had in 2011 was just one yard short of Peyton Manning’s record 5,477 in 2013. He is also tied with Tom Brady for passing TDs with 488 and was tops four times in that category. Brees is also proof that smaller guys can get the job done, since he’s all of 6’0″. Honorable mentions: WR Tedd Ginn Jr. (33), TE Benjamin Watson (37) and OT Jermon Bushrod (34).
New York Giants – QB Eli Manning
Keeping with our theme of elite quarterbacks, Eli Manning is far and away the Giants’ MISC. His skill fade was noticeable last season, but at 37 and considering he still passed for 3,468 yards, Manning is still a formidable passer. We will also cut him some slack for the fact that superstar wide receiver and favorite target Odell Beckham missed 12 games, too. Manning, as durable as they come, enters his 15th season as the Giants quarterback and should have Beckham back and a new target in RB Saquon Barkley. His overall regular season totals are noteworthy, but his playoff totals are much, much better. Put it this way, his regular season TD-to-INT ratio is 339-228 and in the post-season, where he has won two championships, Mannings spread is 18-9. As there is no QB in waiting just yet, the job is Manning’s to lose for the foreseeable future. Honorable mentions: RB Jonathan Stewart (31), G John Greco (33), and LB Connor Barwin.
New York Jets – QB Josh McCown
A youth movement is taking hold in New York, which leaves Jets QB Josh McCown as the team’s MISC by default. Only he and two other players are over 30, McCown a robust 39. Yet, the default tag is a bit misleading, as he proved over the last few years he’s a pretty good spot starter. The Jets are his seventh team, which also earns him the nickname “Suitcase.” Last year, he appeared in the second most games of his career, 13, starting them all for the Jets. While he logged a 5-8 record, his stats were pretty good, with a 67.3 percent completion rate resulting in 2,926 yards passing (the most of his career), 18 TDs (also a personal record) and nine interceptions. For a third round draft pick taken 81st in 2002 by Arizona, McCown has done fairly well and actually gotten better in his 30s. He will likely play second — maybe third — banana to Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater this year. Honorable mention: DT Steve McLendon (32).
Oakland Raiders – RB Marshawn Lynch
It was between funky running back Lynch and new Raider Jordy Nelson for Oakland’s MISC, so we handed the Skittles munching rusher the award — but only by a hair. Lynch, who “retired” and didn’t play in 2016, came back to play with the Raiders in 2017 and showed flashes of his former Beast Mode self from the Seattle Seahawks days. The former two-time rushing TD leader and Super Bowl champ started 15 of 15 games last season, lugging the ball for 891 yards and seven touchdowns. He added 20 catches for 151 yards to run his combined total to 1,042. It’s been a few seasons since he ran for over 1,000 yards, which he has done six times in his career, two with Buffalo and four times in a row (2011-2014) with Seattle. Lynch is most valuable come post-season time, where the 32-year-old has totaled 1,083 combined yards in 11 games, with nine touchdowns. Honorable mention: Nelson (33), TE Jared Cook (31), OT Breno Giacomini (32), OT Donald Penn (35), DT Frostee Rucker (34), LB Derrick Johnson (35), CB Leon Hall (33), K Mike Nugent (36).
Philadelphia Eagles – DE Michael Bennett
There are quite a few deserving geezers on the defending champion Eagles. For our money, though, new Eagle Michael Bennett is Philly’s MISC. The 32-year-old defensive lineman comes to the City of Brotherly Love from Seattle, where he was a Pro Bowler in each of the last three campaigns and won a Super Bowl with in 2013. Last season the Texas A&M product recorded 40 tackles, 8.5 sacks and a pass deflection in 16 starts. Over his 125 game career with Tampa Bay and the Seahawks, the undrafted lineman has totaled 302 tackles, 54 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and four pass defences. He was really good during the Seahawks run to a championship in 2013, making 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks and forcing three fumbles, two he recovered, in three games (one start). The Eagles have made some good additions in the off-season, Bennett among them. Honorable mentions: WR Mike Wallace (32), OT Jason Peters (36), DE Chris Long (33), DT Haloti Ngata (34), S Corey Graham (33) and S Chris Maragos (31).
Pittsburgh Steelers – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Big Ben turned 36 this year, which makes him a young ‘un on this list compared to Tom Brady, Eli Manning and Drew Brees. Pittsburgh’s rifle armed homegrown pivot enters his 15th season with the Steelers, who took him 11th overall out of the University of Miami, OH in 2004. The native of Lima, OH has had a standout career, winning two championships and going to six Pro Bowls. He is among the career leaders in many major categories, including regular season passing yards (51,065, 8th overall), passing touchdowns (329, 9th), playoff passing yards (5,256, 5th) and playoff passing TDs (30, tied for 8th with former Steeler Terry Bradshaw). Roethlisberger registered his fifth season with 4,000 or more passing yards in 2017, chucking the pigskin for 4,251 yards and 28 TDs (14 interceptions). He is consistent as they come, too, amassing all his regular season passing yards and only leading the league once, in 2014. Honorable mentions: G Ramon Foster (32) and DE Tyson Alualu.
San Francisco 49ers – OT Joe Staley
Offensive tackle isn’t as sexy a position as say, wide receiver. However, with Jimmy Garoppolo calling the shots over center and needing big-time protection on his highly paid arm, longtime OT Staley gets the nod for 49ers MISC over fellow old guy WR Pierre Garcon. Drafted 27th overall by the Niners in 2007, Staley has been a reasonably sturdy part of the offensive line every season since, starting 158 of a possible 176 games. He’s been to the Pro Bowl six times and this season the popular 49er will get to mentor 2018 first round draft pick Mike McGlinchey, who was taken ninth overall out of the University of Notre Dame. In addition to the Pro Bowl appearances, Staley is also a three-time Second Team All-Pro. Honorable mentions: Garcon (32) and K Robbie Gould (35).
Seattle Seahawks – K Sebastian Janikowski
The fate of the Seahawks kicking game, and a whack of scoring, could rest on the 40-year-old foot of veteran Sebastian Janikowski. The Polish born hoofer, who owns a career field goal percentage of 80.4 percent, joined the Seahawks as a free agent this year and beat out fellow free agent Jason Myers for the job this pre-season. The Polish Cannon is 11th on the all-time points scored list with 1,799 and is the career leader in most field goals of 50 or more yards with 55. He is also ninth in field goals made (414). Janikowski last played for the Oakland Raiders, who he was with for 17 seasons after they picked him 17th overall in 2000 out of Florida State, in 2016. He was 82.9 percent efficient that season, hitting 29 of 35 attempts, including three of eight from beyond 50 yards. Honorable mentions: WR Brandon Marshall (34), OT Duane Brown (32) and LB Erik Walden (33).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Brent Grimes
The Bucs have two old offensive stars in DeSean Jackson and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who may have a big impact on their fortunes this season. Tampa will likely be able to score, but the ability to defend is paramount to any hope of climbing up the NFC South ladder, which is daunting at best. That is where 35-year-old veteran and four-time Pro Bowler Grimes comes in. The talented corner has been as consistent as they come over the years and is our choice for Tampa MISC. In 13 games for the Buccaneers in 2017, Grimes recorded 49 tackles, had 11 pass deflections and three interceptions. Over his 11-year career, Optimus Grimes has 527 tackles, 134 pass defence and 33 interceptions (three returned for TDs). He will lead a very youthful defensive backfield into the 2018 season, his 12th in the NFL. Honorable mentions: Fitzpatrick (35), Jackson (31), C Evan Smith (32), OT Demar Dotson and DT Mitch Unrein (31).
Tennessee Titans – LB Brian Orakpo
The Titans, despite a winning record of 9-7, had a scoring differential of -22 last year. They made the playoffs, but that points for-points against thing came back to haunt them against New England, where they lost 35-14 in the divisional round. Thus, having a veteran guy like Brian Orakpo around is kind of invaluable as a MISC. The 32-year-old former first round pick has played every game in his three seasons with Tennessee since joining the Titans in 2015 from Washington. In that time, he has registered 141 of his career 397 tackles and 24.5 of his 64.5 sacks. In addition to those laudable numbers, Orakpo has piled up 11 career forced fumbles, 28 pass defences and an interception. Four times Orakpo has been named to the Pro Bowl, three times in six seasons with the Redskins and in 2016 with Tennessee. Honorable mentions: TE Delanie Walker (34), LB Wesley Woodyard (32) and K Ryan Succop (31).
Washington Redskins – QB Alex Smith
While we did note that long-in-tooth RB Adrian Peterson had joined the Redskins and thrown shade at his detractors, newly acquired QB Smith is Washington’s MISC. Smith led all NFL quarterbacks in passer rating in 2017 with Kansas City, based on 4,042 yards passing (his first season with 4,000 or more yards) and 26 touchdown passes, against a measly five interceptions. That kind of production also earned him a third Pro Bowl nomination. Smith has been quietly good in 12 seasons as a pro since being drafted first overall by San Francisco out of the University of Utah in 2005. Injuries plagued his early career, forcing him to miss the 2008 season entirely, but he was quite sturdy in five seasons with the Chiefs, starting in 76 of a possible 80 games. His playoff record isn’t great at 2-5, however, he’s thrown for 1,745 yards in seven games, with 14 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. Honorable mentions: Peterson (33) and TE Vernon Davis (34).