LA Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth is still putting on the pads, still suiting up, and still looking for his first Super Bowl win after 16 NFL seasons. He will be attempting to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford from the Cincinnati Bengals pass rush in SB LVI. That’s a bit ironic because he played for those very same Bengals for 11 of his 16 NFL seasons.
And now, he must face them in order to achieve his lifelong dream of hoisting a Lombardi Trophy. A 40-year old who is the starting left tackle for the LA Rams has not yet known that thrill. At kickoff, he will be the oldest active player in the NFL.
But something that failed to get mentioned as Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement is the fact that he is no longer the oldest player in the NFL. That distinction has now been passed on to Whitworth. And what’s even more amazing is the fact that Whitworth remains the starting left tackle for the LA Rams, one of the most difficult positions to play in the NFL.
But for how long?
Normal wear and tear eventually wins
If you had asked me at the beginning of the 2021 NFL season, I would have leaned towards his retiring at the end of the season. But at about the mid-point of the season, it was clear that he was enjoying another season of football, was playing very well, and was open to coming back in 2022. But then he turned 40, and the entire I-play-a-very-physical-game-of-football reared its ugly head once more.
Wear and tear. it’s like ‘The Rhythm’ to singer Gloria Estefan, it’s gonna getcha. Typically an iron man who played each and every game, Whitworth has been suffering injuries of late. In 2020, he missed half the season due to an MCL injury. This year, he’s missed three games: Two in the regular season and one in the playoffs. While all of that is normal wear and tear, as we get older it’s much more difficult to snap back quickly.
I love the guy and believe that he would be the Rams’ clear starter at left tackle if he and the team do decide to bring him back. I will also admit to underestimating Whitworth’s resiliency. He is meticulous about what he eats, when, and how often he works out. He has learned that his body needs to be trained, not just in power, but in agility and flexibility. He is fastidious in his hydration, sleep, and nourishment. And he is the oldest player in the NFL as a result. Not just sitting on the bench, but starting at left tackle in the Super Bowl.
If the LA Rams win, how can he possibly top that? I don’t think that he does. nor will he try.
If anything, I could see his pursuit of a coaching position, hopefully for the LA Rams, in the near-term future. But whatever happens, he will be starting for the LA Rams in Super Bowl LVI. After that? Let the chips fall where they may.