Matt Ryan is 36 years old and still playing at a high level. Through the first five games of the 2021 season, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback has thrown for 1,332 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions with a 97.1 passer rating. PopCulture.com recently caught up with Ryan, who talked about his chances of playing until he's 40.
"Yeah, we'll see," Ryan told PopCulture. "I mean, I hope to. I think that you just never know. You never know what could happen the next time you're on the field, and so I'm happy for how I feel and how I'm playing right now and hope I can stay in this kind of space for a long time. But you never know."
In today's NFL, it's easier for a quarterback to play into their 40s compared to what the game was in the 1980s and 1990s. Tom Brady is the prime example as he's 44 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. If Ben Roethlisberger decides to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers for another year, he will be 40 years old at that time. Aaron Rodgers will turn 38 in December and has similar numbers as Ryan. And Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has played with a number of teams over the years, will turn 39 in November.
But here's the difference between Ryan and the other quarterbacks mentioned. Ryan has only missed three games in his entire career — two in 2009 and one in 2019. While quarterbacks aren't roughed up as much as they were 30 years ago, they still get hit constantly, leading to significant injuries. That leads to the question of how has Ryan been able to stay healthy for the majority of his career?
"One, it's luck," Ryan said. "I mean, I've been lucky, there's no doubt about that. Sometimes there's flukey things that happen and you can't control it. I try and take good care of myself. I work hard year-round to make sure my body is ready to go and I've played with really good players. I've had guys around me that have helped keep me healthy and keep me playing well and really good coaches and trainers and a good team and support system around me to help me be successful and that part's really helped out."