Aging gracefully is not easy. Even the best plastic surgeons cannot stop the aging process from happening. Youthful looks disappear and are replaced by grey hair, wrinkles and aches. Some people are able to delay the process while others go through it at an early age. The bottom line is that the signs of aging are inevitable and Father Time catches up with everyone. That’s not to say that age will lay a savage overnight assault on everyone. Aging affects people in different ways and to varying degrees.
Lifestyle choices can have a huger effect on how we age. Healthy life choices, including a proper diet and exercise, can sometimes minimize the effects but it won’t stop it. On the flipside, stress, illness or a life of drug and alcohol abuse can certainly have fast acting and negative effects on one’s appearance.
If you watch the NFL Hall of Fame inductions, it is easy to see the difference time makes. The once dashing young prospect with a full head of well-coiffed hair may have morphed into a balding old man during the course of his career. Terry Bradshaw is a great example. He underwent an astonishing transformation during his 14 year NFL career. He was a good looking young man with plenty of blonde hair when he entered the league. Upon retirement, he had become bald and hardened. Despite the aging process occurring early on, he has gone on to age quite well as he closely resembles the way he looked when he retired from the NFL over 30 years ago.
Other NFL players aren’t as fortunate. Here are 20 NFLers who aged terribly.
20 Sam Hurd
Sam Hurd was a wide receiver who played for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears before he was arrested on drug charges and sent to prison for 15 years. He recently claimed that he is fully rehabilitated and was seeking release after serving just two years. Not surprisingly, his pleas were turned down and he will have to serve out his time. We will see if he is, in fact, wiser but he sure appears to be older. The 30-year-old Hurd looks closer to 50. Drugs, stressful trials and doing time have probably helped accelerate Hurd’s aging process.
19 John Elway
NFL Hall of Famer John Elway is one of a few players to end their career with a Super Bowl win. He had a long and successful run that saw him maintain his relatively good looks. Then, somewhere along the way, age snuck up and punched him right in the face. While he has greyed, he still has pretty nice hair, although it is thinning fast. Granted, he is 55 and his job can be stressful, but it’s as if he has aged 20 years in the past two years alone.
18 Todd Marinovich
It’s nearly impossible to age gracefully when you live like Keith Richards. All those drugs leave a mark and they have left a mark on ex-NFL quarterback and flame-out Todd Marinovich. A quick glance at Marinovich reveals many hard miles. His face is gaunt, drawn and pale. His long red locks have been replaced by a bald crown surrounded by a tightly cropped and graying shadow of hair. He presently does public speaking engagements and has found his niche as a painter.
17 Jimmy Smith
Mostly known for his 11 seasons as a wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jimmy Smith also made headlines in his post-playing days. He was arrested on multiple drug charges in 2009 and sentenced to six years in prison in 2013. He only served about four months before being released. He has also done stints in rehab and appears to be sober now.
Sadly, Jimmy hasn’t aged all that well. He is 47 but appears much older. What is left of his hair is noticeably grey and receding. His once healthy and well-toned physique has become quite doughy. With a little luck and healthy living, Jimmy can slow the effects of age.
16 Kwame Harris
Kwame Harris was picked by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 2003 draft, but he wasn’t the stand-out player that the 49ers had hoped for. During Harris’ six-year career, he was known as a weak pass blocker who was prone to taking dumb penalties. After five seasons in San Francisco, he went across the bay to Oakland where he signed a three-year deal with the Raiders. Kwame played only one year of that contract before he was released. He has seen his share of legal troubles since his playing days ended and he also appears to have aged terribly. At a relatively young 34, he has gone grey and appears to be many years beyond his age.
15 Damien Berry
How fortunes can change. Damien Berry fell from the heights of celebrating a Super Bowl victory to the lows of being imprisoned for writing bad checks. While his NFL career lasted just two years, the ex-running back rode the pine to a Super Bowl ring in 2013 before he was waived by the Ravens. A recent police photo shows a rapidly aging 26-year-old whose graying beard and dreadlocks are beginning to betray his youthful looks.
14 Clarence Love
Before Clarence Love found himself in his current situation, he played in 31 NFL games over seven unremarkable seasons. In 2015, Love received a short jail stint for his involvement in a drug enterprise. Prior to this, he had been involved in a brawl in which he was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. All of this fast living has taken its toll on Clarence Love. In his recent court appearance, the 39-year-old Love appeared to be tired, old and aging terribly. His beard shows signs of grey and his hair is thinning.
13 Roman Harper
Roman Harper has had a pretty good NFL career as a safety. He played eight years in New Orleans where he won a Super Bowl in 2009. He went on to play two seasons with the Carolina Panthers including competing in Super Bowl 50 where the Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos. The Panthers recently voided his contract making him a free agent. At 33 years old, his NFL career could be in jeopardy and he isn’t getting any younger. In fact, his grey hair has become a prominent feature, making him look years beyond his age.
12 Emmitt Smith
An integral part of three Super Bowl winning teams, Emmitt Smith holds many individual records and trophies. He played in Dallas for 12 years before finishing his storied career with a two-year stint in Arizona. He has since had a very successful career in television broadcasting and real estate. Even before his playing days ended, he was visibly aging. The grey has become a prominent feature while his receding hairline has victimized him. He looks a little like Samuel L. Jackson, but unfortunately Samuel L. Jackson is 67 and Smith is only 46.
11 LaVar Arrington
LaVar Arrington was a first round pick of the Washington Redskins at the 2000 NFL Draft. He had a pretty decent six-year run with the Redskins despite his contract troubles. He then moved on to the New York Giants but injuries began to affect him. He was released by the Giants after one season and never played another down after that, as serious injuries sustained in a 2007 motorcycle crash snuffed any chances of a comeback.
He has gone on to broadcasting and sports management. He also appears to have aged quite rapidly in recent years. Despite being in pretty good shape for a 37-year-old, he looks to be aging alarmingly fast.
10 Troy Polamalu
Troy Polamalu is known for his defensive play on the gridiron as well as his long wavy hair. A fan favorite in Pittsburgh for twelve years, Polamalu was part of two Super Bowl winners. His career ended when Steelers management told Troy to retire or be released. Troy decided to choose retirement though it was a bitter pill to swallow. Polamalu says that he has not had anything to do with the Steelers organization since he was forced out.
All of this trauma and disappointment might explain why Troy is suddenly starting to look old. His once black mane has been inundated with grey hair and the lines on his face have become very pronounced. He still wears his long hair with pride. He just looks really old doing it.
9 Chris Borland
Chris Borland looks like an average 45-year-old man. The only problem with this is that he is only 25. His hair doesn’t appear to be part of his future, as it has receded quite a bit and left him with a bald crown. Borland made headlines by retiring from the NFL after just one season. He decided that the risk of head trauma and brain damage were too great. In doing so, he is sacrificing a whole lot of money.
8 Jeff Garcia
There was a lot of travel involved in Jeff Garcia’s professional football career. He left his mark on the CFL before getting a shot at an NFL career in 1999 with the San Francisco 49ers. He would play for 11 years in the NFL with many different teams. He was lucky enough to marry the 2004 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Carmella DeCesare, in 2007. He now trains other quarterbacks and he fits the role of a wise, old mentor well. While he is only 46, he has the appearance of an almost grandfatherly figure. His hair along with any semblance of youth is long gone.
7 Ronnie Lott
Ronnie Lott made a name for himself as a very talented cornerback and safety during his Hall of Fame career. He was the first pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 1981 and was a part of four Super Bowl winning teams while also being the recipient of various personal awards. He also made a name for himself by opting to amputate part of his broken pinky finger in order to speed up his recovery time. Since retiring from football, he has been working in broadcasting as well as in business.
After maintaining a relatively young look for many years, Lott has really started to show his age and appears to be transforming into an old man right in front of our eyes.
6 Ray Guy
Ray Guy was the first ever punter to be drafted in the first round and is the only punter to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. His punting skills were legendary. It isn’t often that a punter can make a huge difference in a game. but Ray Guy’s punting did just that.
He won three Super Bowl rings in his career but was unfortunately forced to sell them amid his 2011 bankruptcy. This upsetting time might have put a few more years onto his already old looking face. Age has been particularly hard on him. leaving him heavily wrinkled and as grey as one can be.
5 Lawrence Taylor
Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor terrorized opposing offenses throughout his 13 year NFL career with the New York Giants. It has also been revealed that he developed an intense drug addiction throughout his playing years too. Since his retirement in 1994, he has seen nothing but trouble. He has been in and out of rehab and was publicly disgraced when he was arrested for soliciting sex from a minor (he is now a registered sex offender). The 57-year-old Taylor is showing the effects of hard living and is not aging well. He still has those crazy intimidating eyes, but he is looking haggard.
4 Nate Newton
The massive offensive lineman made a pretty good career out of protecting his quarterback. After his career ended in 2000, he was involved in a couple big drug busts which saw him receive some prison time. He apparently “saw the light” and turned his life around. He also had gastric surgery which resulted in him shrinking from nearly 400 pounds down to a healthy 220 pounds. The transformation has left him almost unrecognizable. He looks more like a wise old grizzled grandfather than the hulking football player he once was. Despite looking older than he should, he is happier with the health benefits and we're glad for him!
3 Cris Carter
Cris Carter has been looking old for many years now, but his aging process seems to have accelerated even more. The 50-year-old ex-wide receiver was a force in his prime. He enjoyed a very productive 16 years in the NFL, and while a Super Bowl ring eluded him, he was able to earn several awards, titles and records. He has had a very successful career after football in broadcasting and also owns a sports training center. The lines on his face might be getting deeper and he might need an extra layer of makeup before going in front of the cameras, but he continues his post-NFL triumphs regardless.
2 O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson hacked and slashed his way through opposing defenses throughout his Hall of Fame career. Then he hacked and slashed his way to another kind of notoriety. What could have been some very golden years have turned into a well-deserved life behind bars. Along with losing most of his net worth and falling from grace, he has also aged terribly as his life has unwound. He is currently behind bars for his role in a bizarre robbery and kidnapping. The 68-year-old is also battling weight gain and arthritis. All those years of running have left Simpson a tired and grey old man.
1 Brett Favre
Brett Favre holds many individual quarterback records and he has won a Super Bowl ring. During his career he was known to be a warrior in the face of adversity. He is best remembered for his 16 years with the Green Bay Packers where his many on-field accomplishments earned him a place in the Hall of Fame. One thing Brett Favre has not done well with is aging. In recent pictures, he has been sporting a grey beard that matches his grey hair and grey eyebrows. He looks more like a grizzled lumberjack than an ex-quarterback. Don’t let the wrinkles, the grey and the limp fool you. He is still as solid as a rock.
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