What is average NFL player’s career length? Longer than you might think, Commissioner Goodell says

Commissioner Roger Goodell clarified a myth about the average career length of an NFL player during a recent conference call with season ticket holders of the San Diego Chargers.

One fan on the conference call said she has read many times that the average career length of an NFL player is about three years, adding it seemed so many played much longer than that. She asked Commissioner Goodell about his knowledge of NFL career length.

“There is a little bit of a misrepresentation or a misunderstanding on that.  Frequently, it is said that the average career is about 3.5 years.  In fact, if a player makes an opening day roster, his career is very close to six years,” Commissioner Goodell said. “If you are a first-round draft choice, the average career is close to nine years.  That 3.5-year average is really a misrepresentation.  What it adds is a lot of players who don’t make an NFL roster and it brings down the average.”

According to a recent NFL Management Council analysis of players who entered the NFL between 1993 and 2002, the average career length for a player who is on his club’s opening-day roster as a rookie is 6.0 years.

That 6.0 average is 88 percent higher than NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith’s recent claim.

“The fundamental principle of our business model necessarily includes that every player only plays for an average of 3.2 years,” Smith said in a March 31 forum with MBA students at the University of Virginia.

Following are the facts from the career-length analysis (using regular-season and postseason rosters):

  • The average career length for a player who makes a club’s opening-day roster (active/inactive roster or injured reserve) in his rookie season is 6.0 years.
  • The average career length for a player with at least three pension-credited seasons* is 7.1 years (*a player receives a pension credit for each season in which he spends at least three games on an active/inactive roster and/or injured reserve).
  • The average career length for a first-round draft pick is 9.3 years.
  • The average career length for a player who is selected for or plays in at least one Pro Bowl is 11.7 years.  Of the 318 players who began careers between 1993 and 2002 and made the Pro Bowl at least once, 113 of those players – 36 percent – were on a club’s roster in 2010.
  • There are 288 players who began their careers between 1993-2002 who were on a club’s roster in 2010.

Following is a team-by-team list of the 288 players who began their careers between 1993-2002 and were on a 2010 NFL roster:

Club Player Rookie Yr. Draft Rd. Pro Bowls*
ARZ Faneca, Alan 1998 1 9
ARZ Feely, Jay 2001   0
ARZ Haggans, Clark 2000 5 0
ARZ Leach, Mike 2000   0
ARZ Lenon, Paris 2000   0
ARZ Porter, Joey 1999 3 4
ARZ Robinson, Bryan 1997   0
ARZ Wilson, Adrian 2001 3 4
ATL Abraham, John 2000 1 4
ATL Bryant, Matt 2002   0
ATL Finneran, Brian 1998   0
ATL Gonzalez, Tony 1997 1 11
ATL McClure, Todd 1999 7 0
ATL Peelle, Justin 2002 4 0
ATL Peterson, Mike 1999 2 0
ATL Redman, Chris 2000 3 0
ATL Williams, Brian 2002 4 0
ATL Wire, Coy 2002 3 0
ATL Zelenka, Joe 1999   0
BLT Ayanbadejo, Brendon 1999   3
BLT Birk, Matt 1998 6 6
BLT Bulger, Marc 2000 6 2
BLT Cundiff, Billy 2002   1
BLT Gregg, Kelly 1999 6 0
BLT Heap, Todd 2001 1 2
BLT Houser, Kevin 2000 7 0
BLT Houshmandzadeh, T.J. 2001 7 1
BLT Lewis, Ray 1996 1 10
BLT Mason, Derrick 1997 4 2
BLT McKie, Jason 2002   0
BLT Reed, Ed 2002 1 7
BLT Stallworth, Donte’ 2002 1 0
BUF Ayodele, Akin 2002 3 0
BUF Davis, Andra 2002 5 0
BUF Green, Cornell 1999   0
BUF Lindell, Rian 2000   0
BUF Martin, David 2001 6 0
BUF McIntyre, Corey 2002   0
BUF Moorman, Brian 1999   2
BUF Stroud, Marcus 2001 1 3
CAR Baker, Jason 2001   0
CAR Smith, Steve 2001 3 4
CHI Clark, Desmond 1999 6 0
CHI Collins, Todd 1995 2 0
CHI Garza, Roberto 2001 4 0
CHI Grant, Charles 2002 1 0
CHI Kreutz, Olin 1998 3 6
CHI Mannelly, Patrick 1998 6 0
CHI Manumaleuna, Brandon 2001 4 0
CHI Maynard, Brad 1997 3 0
CHI Peppers, Julius 2002 1 6
CHI Shaffer, Kevin 2002 7 0
CHI Taylor, Chester 2002 6 0
CHI Urlacher, Brian 2000 1 7
CIN Jones, Dhani 2000 6 0
CIN Kelly, Reggie 1999 2 0
CIN Ochocinco, Chad 2001 2 6
CIN Owens, Terrell 1996 3 6
CIN Williams, Bobbie 2000 2 0
CIN Williams, Roy 2002 1 5
CLV Barton, Eric 1999 5 0
CLV Bowens, David 1999 5 0
CLV Brown, Sheldon 2002 2 0
CLV Coleman, Kenyon 2002 5 0
CLV Dawson, Phil 1998   0
CLV Delhomme, Jake 1997   1
CLV Fujita, Scott 2002 5 0
CLV Rogers, Shaun 2001 2 3
CLV Royal, Robert 2002 5 0
CLV Smith, Robaire 2000 6 0
CLV Sorensen, Nick 2001   0
CLV St. Clair, John 2000 3 0
CLV Womack, Floyd 2001 4 0
CLV Zastudil, Dave 2002 4 0
DAL Brooking, Keith 1998 1 4
DAL Brown, Kris 1999 7 0
DAL Colombo, Marc 2002 1 0
DAL Davis, Leonard 2001 1 3
DAL Greisen, Chris 1999 7 0
DAL Gurode, Andre 2002 2 5
DAL Kitna, Jon 1996   0
DAL Kosier, Kyle 2002 7 0
DEN Bailey, Champ 1999 1 10
DEN Bannan, Justin 2002 5 0
DEN Buckhalter, Correll 2001 4 0
DEN Dawkins, Brian 1996 2 8
DEN Gaffney, Jabar 2002 2 0
DEN Goodman, Andre’ 2002 3 0
DEN Graham, Daniel 2002 1 0
DEN Hill, Renaldo 2001 7 0
DEN Hochstein, Russ 2001 5 0
DEN Paxton, Lonie 2000   0
DEN Williams, Jamal 1998 2 3
DET Backus, Jeff 2001 1 0
DET DeVries, Jared 1999 3 0
DET Harris, Nick 2001 4 0
DET Hill, Shaun 2002   0
DET Morris, Maurice 2002 2 0
DET Peterson, Julian 2000 1 5
DET Raiola, Dominic 2001 2 0
DET Vanden Bosch, Kyle 2001 2 3
DET Wesley, Dante 2002 4 0
GB Clifton, Chad 2000 2 2
GB Driver, Donald 1999 7 3
GB Green, Howard 2002 6 0
GB Pickett, Ryan 2001 1 0
GB Tauscher, Mark 2000 7 0
GB Woodson, Charles 1998 1 7
HST Bentley, Kevin 2002 4 0
HST Davis, Andre 2002 2 0
HST Denney, Ryan 2002 2 0
HST Green, Jarvis 2002 4 0
HST Lewis, Damione 2001 1 0
HST Ogunleye, Adewale 2000   1
HST Rackers, Neil 2000 6 1
HST Salaam, Ephraim 1998 7 0
HST Turk, Matt 1993   3
IND Diem, Ryan 2001 4 0
IND Freeney, Dwight 2002 1 6
IND Manning, Peyton 1998 1 11
IND Rhodes, Dominic 2001   0
IND Saturday, Jeff 1998   5
IND Snow, Justin 2000   0
IND Townsend, Deshea 1998 4 0
IND Vinatieri, Adam 1996   2
IND Wayne, Reggie 2001 1 5
JAX Bouman, Todd 1997   0
JAX Garrard, David 2002 4 1
JAX Kampman, Aaron 2002 5 2
JAX Meester, Brad 2000 2 0
KC Chambers, Chris 2001 2 1
KC Edwards, Ron 2001 3 0
KC Jones, Thomas 2000 1 1
KC McGraw, Jon 2002 2 0
KC Simoneau, Mark 2000 3 0
KC Vrabel, Mike 1997 3 1
KC Waters, Brian 1999   5
KC Wiegmann, Casey 1996   1
MIA Allen, Will 2001 1 0
MIA Harris, Al 1997 6 2
MIA Pennington, Chad 2000 1 0
MIA Williams, Ricky 1999 1 1
MIN Hutchinson, Steve 2001 1 7
MIN Kleinsasser, Jim 1999 2 0
MIN Leber, Ben 2002 3 0
MIN Longwell, Ryan 1997   0
MIN McKinnie, Bryant 2002 1 1
MIN Ramsey, Patrick 2002 1 0
MIN Sheppard, Lito 2002 1 2
MIN Williams, Pat 1997   3
MIN Winfield, Antoine 1999 1 3
NE Brady, Tom 2000 6 6
NE Branch, Deion 2002 2 0
NE Crumpler, Alge 2001 2 4
NE Faulk, Kevin 1999 2 0
NE Graham, Shayne 2000   1
NE Light, Matt 2001 2 3
NE Morris, Sammy 2000 5 0
NE Neal, Steve 2001   0
NE Taylor, Fred 1998 1 1
NE Warren, Gerard 2001 1 0
NO Betts, Ladell 2002 2 0
NO Brees, Drew 2001 2 5
NO Brown, Alex 2002 4 0
NO Clark, Danny 2000 7 0
NO Evans, Heath 2001 3 0
NO Goodwin, Jonathan 2002 5 1
NO Kyle, Jason 1995 4 0
NO Prioleau, Pierson 1999 4 0
NO Sharper, Darren 1997 2 5
NO Shockey, Jeremy 2002 1 4
NYG Bernard, Rocky 2002 5 0
NYG Bulluck, Keith 2000 1 1
NYG Grant, Deon 2000 2 0
NYG McKenzie, Kareem 2001 3 0
NYG O’Hara, Shaun 2000   3
NYG Rosenfels, Sage 2001 4 0
NYG Seubert, Rich 2001   0
NYG Tynes, Lawrence 2001   0
NYJ Brunell, Mark 1993 5 3
NYJ Coles, Laveranues 2000 3 1
NYJ Ellis, Shaun 2000 1 2
NYJ Jenkins, Kris 2001 2 4
NYJ Moore, Brandon 2002   0
NYJ Pryce, Trevor 1997 1 4
NYJ Richardson, Tony 1994   3
NYJ Scott, Bart 2002   1
NYJ Taylor, Jason 1997 3 6
NYJ Thomas, Bryan 2002 1 0
NYJ Tomlinson, LaDainian 2001 1 5
NYJ Woody, Damien 1999 1 1
OAK Bennett, Michael 2001 1 1
OAK Carlisle, Cooper 2000 4 0
OAK Cartwright, Rock 2002 7 0
OAK Henderson, John 2002 1 2
OAK Janikowski, Sebastian 2000 1 0
OAK Lechler, Shane 2000 5 6
OAK O’Sullivan, J.T. 2002 6 0
OAK Seymour, Richard 2001 1 6
OAK Walker, Langston 2002 2 0
PHI Akers, David 1997   5
PHI Burgess, Derrick 2001 3 2
PHI Parker, Juqua 2001   0
PHI Vick, Michael 2001 1 4
PIT Adams, Flozell 1998 2 5
PIT Batch, Charlie 1998 2 0
PIT Clark, Ryan 2002   0
PIT Farrior, James 1997 1 2
PIT Foote, Larry 2002 4 0
PIT Hampton, Casey 2001 1 5
PIT Harrison, James 2002   4
PIT Hoke, Chris 2001   0
PIT Keisel, Brett 2002 7 1
PIT Randle El, Antwaan 2002 2 0
PIT Smith, Aaron 1999 4 1
PIT Ward, Hines 1998 3 4
SD Albright, Ethan 1994   0
SD Binn, David 1994   0
SD Boone, Alfonso 2000 7 0
SD Carter, Tyrone 2000 4 0
SD Dearth, James 1999 6 0
SD Jammer, Quentin 2002 1 0
SD McMichael, Randy 2002 4 0
SD Moore, Brandon 2002   0
SD Volek, Billy 2000   0
SEA Baker, Chris 2002 3 0
SEA Brock, Raheem 2002 7 0
SEA Hamilton, Ben 2001 4 0
SEA Hasselbeck, Matt 1998 6 3
SEA Mare, Olindo 1996   1
SEA Milloy, Lawyer 1996 2 4
SEA Pitts, Chester 2002 2 0
SEA Stokley, Brandon 1999 4 0
SF Carr, David 2002 1 0
SF Clements, Nate 2001 1 1
SF Evans, Demetric 2001   0
SF Heitmann, Eric 2002 7 0
SF James, William 2001 3 0
SF Jennings, Brian 2000 7 0
SF Nedney, Joe 1995   0
SF Norris, Moran 2001 4 0
SF Reed, Jeff 2002   0
SF Sims, Barry 1999   0
SF Smith, Justin 2001 1 2
SF Spikes, Takeo 1998 1 2
SF Westbrook, Brian 2002 3 2
SF Wragge, Tony 2002   0
SL Diggs, Na’il 2000 4 0
SL Feeley, A.J. 2001 5 0
SL Fraley, Hank 2000   0
SL Hall, James 2000   0
SL Hovan, Chris 2000 1 0
SL Lewis, Michael 2002 2 1
SL Massey, Chris 2002 7 0
SL Robbins, Fred 2000 2 0
TB Barber, Ronde 1997 3 5
TB Gilmore, John 2002 6 0
TB Sims, Ryan 2002 1 0
TB Stevens, Jerramy 2002 1 0
TB Vincent, Keydrick 2001   0
TB White, Stylez G 2002 7 0
TEN Amato, Ken 2002   0
TEN Bironas, Rob 2002   1
TEN Collins, Kerry 1995 1 2
TEN Douglas, Marques 1999   0
TEN Hope, Chris 2002 3 1
TEN Moss, Randy 1998 1 6
TEN Thornton, David 2002 4 0
TEN Winborn, Jamie 2001 2 0
TEN Witherspoon, Will 2002 3 0
WAS Bidwell, Josh 1999 4 1
WAS Buchanon, Phillip 2002 1 0
WAS Carter, Andre 2001 1 0
WAS Daniels, Phillip 1996 4 0
WAS Fletcher, London 1998   2
WAS Furrey, Mike 2000   0
WAS Galloway, Joey 1995 1 0
WAS Haynesworth, Albert 2002 1 2
WAS Hicks, Artis 2002   0
WAS Holliday, Vonnie 1998 1 0
WAS Kemoeatu, Ma’ake 2002   0
WAS McNabb, Donovan 1999 1 6
WAS Moss, Santana 2001 1 1
WAS Portis, Clinton 2002 2 2
WAS Rabach, Casey 2001 3 0
WAS Sellers, Mike 1998   1
WAS Smith, Hunter 1999 7 0
WAS Williams, Mike 2002 1 0

*Pro Bowls selected for/played in

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