SAN DIEGO -- Warren Moon knows a thing or two about aging gracefully in the NFL.
The Hall of Fame quarterback played 17 seasons in the league after winning five straight Grey Cup titles with the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League.
He’s tied with Steve DeBerg and Vinny Testaverde as the second-oldest quarterbacks ever to play in the league at 44 years old. Former Oakland Raiders quarterback/kicker George Blanda was the oldest at 48 years old.
The San Diego Chargers also have an aging quarterback in Philip Rivers. At 33 years old, the North Carolina State product is one of the most durable signal-callers in the league, with a current streak of 160 consecutive starts, second only to Eli Manning (183) among active quarterbacks.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, last season there were 22 quarterbacks who started games at age 30 or older. That number has remained about the same over the past decade.
In 2006, there were 20 quarterbacks who started games at age 30 or older and 21 in 2005, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Rivers credited endurance work and improved core strength for his ability to stay on the field in 2015 after suffering back and rib injuries that limited his production in 2014.
Like Rivers, Moon said the secret to his ability to stay healthy was preventative care.
“Flexibility was a concern, and a big thing I worked on a lot,” Moon said. “I tried to stay as loose and flexible as a possibly can, keep my muscles long and lean. I worked a lot on prevention, including how I took care of my arm and the stretching routine that I had for it before and after practice. The way I used to ice it down. The way I used to get it massaged.”
Moon said he watched what he ate and the type of supplements he put into his body at the end of his career, and also had a routine he went through in-between practices during two-a-days that kept his arm fresh.
“I was one of those guys that even though I wasn’t a wide receiver or a defensive back, I got in the ice tub every day, and iced my legs down after I got done,” Moon said. “So just a lot of prevention stuff to make sure you didn’t get injuries, because it seemed like if you had injuries as you got older, it took that injury a lot longer to heal, and you didn’t bounce back from that injury as quickly as you would like. So you wanted to try and stay away from those things if you could.”
Moon believes that Rivers can continue to play at a high level if he stays healthy, but the Chargers have to do a better job of protecting their franchise quarterback. The Chargers used 24 different offensive line combinations in 2015, fourth-most in the NFL.
“The guy can play,” Moon said. “As long as you protect him, because he’s not a guy that’s going to buy a lot of time with moving around outside the pocket -- he moves in the pocket as well as anybody, and he’ll hang in the pocket as well as anybody will -- but you’ve got to protect him a little bit longer than most because of his inability to scramble. That’s why it’s important to keep a really good offensive line in front of him, because if that guy has time, he’ll cut you apart.
“I love Philip Rivers as a quarterback. I always have. He’s been one of the more productive quarterbacks since he’s been in the league, he just doesn’t have the ring to show for it. And I don’t know if he’ll every get one, but he’ll always be fighting to get one. That’s what I love about him, his competitive spirit.”