By Nick Veronica
Peyton Manning’s retirement this week meant we lost another member of an exclusive club: the list of active players who were in the original NFL Street video game.
Of the game’s 398 players, Manning makes 388 who have called it a career. Only three remaining players – all quarterbacks – are under contract for 2016 and definitely coming back, while seven more hope to get another year.
The classic game was released in 2004 with rosters from the 2003 season, so the atrophy of this list was inevitable and expected. (In fact, many players outlasted the game systems NFL Street was made for: Play Station 2, GameCube and Xbox.)
But still, going through and hoping to find active players was an exercise in futility. (Hat-tip to the Madden Ratings blog for help with the rosters and big ups to Josh for his research assistance). There were multiple occasions where we thought we might have an active player, only to learn he retired years ago.
Here are the results. Players who are definitely playing in 2016 are highlighted in green, while questionable players are highlighted in blue. Keep in mind that NFL Street was played 7-on-7 with no special teams. We’ll update as players sign/retire (which may been soon, since free agency opened at 3 p.m. Wednesday).
– Brady’s contract runs through the 2017 season.
– Palmer’s contract runs through the 2017 season.
– Suggs tore his Achilles in September but vowed he wasn’t finished playing, even if it’s not for the Ravens.
– The Colts are unlikely to bring back Johnson, but he said “I am playing, there’s no question about that.”
– Freeney nearly retired before signing with the Cardinals last season and enjoyed their playoff run. No word on yet on where he’ll be in 2016.
– Brees will enter the final year of his deal with Chargers in 2016.
– Vick said Wednesday that he wants one more year. He’s willing to wait as long as it takes, but if an offer doesn’t come, 2016 will be it for him.
– Smith said 2015 would be his last year, but changed his mind after an injury.
– Peppers’ contract runs through 2016, but after the Packers’ playoff loss he said he was “not sure” if he’d return for another year or retire. We put him in blue, but he could switch to green.
– Boldin is a free agent but said in December “right now it’s not the time” to retire.
So here’s the breakdown:
Who will be the game’s final active player? I’d have a hard time betting against Brady (38 years young), even if he is older than Brees (37) and Palmer (36).