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Old 06-24-2013, 08:29 PM    (permalink
Caulibflower
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Default Late Bloomers (Another History Thread)

I was just reading a little about Justin Smith and how he's going to finish his career as a 49er, and thinking about how while he was always considered pretty good as a Bengal, he was pretty much a cog in a the machine and certainly not a superstar. But over the last four years his stature has risen meteorically and he's now considered one of the best players in the league - and all this has happened basically since he turned 30. It's sort of an odd and uncommon thing for NFL players, so I'm wondering what others have had similar career arcs.

There's Tiki Barber, of course, who like Smith was always pretty good but then went supernova right at the end. There's the Kurt Warner's of the world. Trent Green, etc., the guys who played in NFL Europe and as backups before getting a chance. I'm less interested in quarterbacks than guys like the aforementioned Smith and Barber who were regular contributors in some respect before going nuts around the age of 30.

And not just one flukey late-career season, either. It's gotta be like three years of noticeably increased production over their career averages up to that point. Joe Horn probably counts. We'll make 28 the age for the earliest they could've "broken out," so to speak. (Edit: Just looked - Cris Carter's a perfect example by this criteria. Tiki Barber also should probably be disqualified for being too good early on, even though it did take him a few years. His peak was definitely the end of his career though, and eclipsed his earlier work by a significant margin, which is why I thought of him.)

Last edited by Caulibflower : 06-24-2013 at 08:36 PM.
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