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Average NFL Career

With its high-quality athletes competing on a superb level and the entertainment they offer to the viewers, the NFL is by no accident one of the biggest sports leagues in the world that is also a platform and a kind of culture that connects people on and off the pitch.

Being a professional football player in the NFL is rare and while it pays really well, it demands that the players be in amazing shape year in and year out. So, with this lifestyle being both mentally and physically taxing, seeing a fairly young player retire is not an uncommon sight.

This article will provide you with more information on what it’s like to be an NFL player, and give you more insight into how things function in the NFL. And of course, you will learn what the average length of an NFL career is and why football players retire.

A journey to becoming an NFL player

The football career begins much earlier than the time a player gets into the NFL and being an above-average player requires talent, hard work and persistence. So, how hard is it to make it to the top if a player possesses these qualities? Let’s briefly see how the whole process looks.

While the athlete’s life begins at a very young age, the more serious players take on their NFL journey in high school where they fight for a place on a college team where they will compete on a very high level with the main goal of becoming a prospect for the NFL

However, being drafted into the NFL is not the end of this fun but a very exhausting process. After joining a team, a player must earn his place on the roster by trying to give his best without making mistakes and getting injured, which can be very stressful.

What does an average NFL career look like?

Becoming a professional football player in the NFL sounds like a dream. It sounds as if it’s the easiest job on the planet. However, it might not actually be the case here.

Most NFL players spend their days in team facilities where they function according to the team’s rules. They eat, sleep, train, watch match films, have meetings, work on their mental skills, and much more. Basically, the players do what the team thinks is the best for them to perform at their best.

Even when they leave the facilities and go on or off the field, the players are still facing a lot of physical and mental challenges. They are a target of the media and the fans who expect them to always behave well and play at the highest levels possible.

So, while being an NFL player comes with a lot of fame and wealth, it is also very demanding and requires a lot of commitment, dedication and a strong mind, which brings us to the next topic.

How long is the average NFL career by position?

What you are about to learn now may come as a surprise at first but will become much clearer after reading further in this article. The average football career is 3.3 years. Yes, you read that right, and no, it’s not a typo.

Before starting to count all of the stars who have 15-year careers, please note that this statistic is made by including every player in the NFL. And also, keep in mind that this average can vary based on the position.

Unlike other sports like basketball or hockey, there are many different positions in football that come with different responsibilities and demands. For example, the wide receiver’s job is nothing like the linebacker’s or especially the punter’s. So, the type of contact these players go through and the risk of injury differs which can hugely affect the length of their careers.

According to the above information,let’s look into what NFL position has the shortest career? Here is a list of the average career lengths by position:

  • Wide Receivers (2.81 years)
  • Linebackers (2.97 years)
  • Tight Ends (2.85 years)
  • Running Backs (2.57 years)
  • Quarterbacks (4.44 years)
  • Punters (4.87 years)
  • Offensive Linemen (3.63 years)

Why are NFL careers short?

You are probably wondering why would the careers not last longer in this type of sport that pays so well and provides the players with all the luxuries they need in life and more. That’s a great question, and here are some of the most common reasons why NFL careers are that short:

  • Injuries. Football is a full-contact sport where the chances of getting an injury are high. Some players refuse to take this risk for longer periods of time and others are frequently getting career-ending injuries.
  • High demands. The players are living according to the team’s rules and regimes. While this is important for optimal performance, many players can’t endure this type of lifestyle and choose to pursue other careers and spend more time with their families.
  • Roster changes. The NFL is constantly upgrading and moving forward. The competition is high and the teams are adding and releasing new players all the time.
  • Financial reasons. While there are a lot of enormous contracts in the league, the number of players that don’t get paid very well is probably higher. Because of this ( and the high demands), some decide to quit the league and use the previously earned money to start another business.
  • Age. Many players peak in their late 20s and have a very short window where they perform well before their performances drop.

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why a player may choose to leave the NFL and stop living “the dream”. While it looks like a dream job, playing a sport on a professional level is very hard and can have a toll on many people.

Sadly, the NFL is a sport where the injury risk is high and even if a player is ready and determined to live that lifestyle, the sports gods may have other plans for him.

What do NFL players do after retiring?

The word retiring is usually related to an older age, but do you know what is the average NFL retirement age?

Since you’ve learned how short the average NFL career is, you can probably guess the answer. The average NFL retirement age is 27.6 years which is around the same time when many people find their first steady and well-paying job. Let that sink in.

Of course, there are well-known exceptions that go far beyond the average and play until their forties. The best example of this would be the greatest player of all time, Tom Brady, who (most likely) retired this year at the age of 45 after playing 23 years in the league.

Brady doesn’t hold the record though. The oldest player to retire in the NFL is George Blanda who at the time of doing so was 48 years old.

However, many of these players continue to work in this field and become successful coaches, broadcasters, or valuable parts of a team’s administration. On the other hand, others pursue getting a degree or starting another business.

A great example of an NFL player who started a business after hanging the boots is the well-known Marshawn Lynch. The running back made millions from Beastmode Apparel, Beastmode Productions and Rob Ben’s Restaurant.

It’s safe to say that with good business knowledge and branding, it’s very possible for a player to make a lot of money after retiring from the NFL.


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