Age-old question: How long is too long?

By John McClain
Updated: August 31, 2009

Warren Moon

Warren Moon

HOUSTON — The Minnesota Vikings better hope quarterback Brett Favre plays more like Warren Moon at 39 than like other Hall of Fame quarterbacks who should have retired before they reached that age.

Favre, who played the first half of Monday’s nationally televised preseason game against the Texans at Reliant Stadium, turns 40 on Oct. 10.

Moon played 10 years for the Oilers before they traded him to Minnesota in 1994. One year later, he had the greatest season of any 39-year-old quarterback in NFL history, throwing for 4,228 yards and 33 touchdowns.

“We all know that Brett’s one of the greatest quarterbacks in history, but since he has Adrian Peterson at running back, he shouldn’t have to throw as much as I did,” Moon said last week.

Moon, who is touring the country promoting his book, Never Give Up On Your Dream: My Journey, threw 606 passes at age 39, completing 377 (62.2 percent). He threw only 14 interceptions to go with his career-high 33 TD passes.

“Brett’s the most durable quarterback ever, and I think with their great running game and outstanding defense that he might try to manage the game more than in the past,” Moon said. “But that really hasn’t been his nature to this point.

“I think if any quarterback can pull off what they’re hoping to do, it’s Brett.”

Favre is expected to be, like Moon, a first-ballot selection for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What happens now doesn’t tarnish his legacy as one of the greatest to play the game.

The question is whether Favre will play more like Moon than like Johnny Unitas, Len Dawson, Sonny Jurgensen or George Blanda, all of whom suited up at 39 but failed to start more than eight games because of injury or ineptness.

Hall of Fame quarterbacks retiring at 38 were Y.A. Tittle, Fran Tarkenton, Joe Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino and Steve Young.

Favre, of course, returned to the NFL after another offseason of drawn-out drama and was given the Vikings’ starting job over Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.

“He’s put in his time,” Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye said. “He should be able to decide what he wants to do. Personally, I think he should have stayed away.

“He’s a pretty good quarterback, and he can throw the football pretty good. We don’t think he’s that mobile anymore, so he’s going to want to stay in the pocket a lot more. You’ve got to be aware of his pocket awareness.”