Meet Matt. He’s a 42-year-old father of three, happily married, living in Indianapolis, Ind. Every day he goes to work, puts his time in, then returns home. However, on Sundays, as most people are doing yard work or finding the optimal position on the couch, Matt has his busiest day at the office. He runs into the Superman phone booth and comes out Matt Stover, placekicker for the Indianapolis Colts.
With the Colts’ win this past Sunday Stover will become the oldest player to ever play in the Super Bowl. While it is uncommon for athletes continuing to play after reaching the big 4-0, there are instances of players continuing once they are over the hill. Hank Aaron was still hitting home runs for the Atlanta Braves, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar was still raining skyhooks on Celtics players and Brett “Comfortable in a Wrangler” Favre was still throwing touchdown passes, all of them well into their forties. My uncle Frank recently turned 42, and the best thing he’s done all year is figure out how to watch two football gamesat once on his TV.
Stover started his career off with the Cleveland Browns in 1991 when most Miami University students were still in diapers. He is another name on the long list of Cleveland athletes who have made it big after leaving the Big Plum (a true former nickname for the city). He continued with the Ravens after Art Modell packed up the Browns and took them to Baltimore in 1995. He played there until 2008 when he was released and then picked up midway through this season by the Colts.
Stover is not just an old guy hanging around the game because he can’t bring himself to hang ’em up. He belongs in the same elite category of the players named above. Known as “Automatic Matt” for his clutch kicking, he is one of the most accurate kickers in the history of the football. According to NFL.com, he has missed only three extra points in his 19-year career and has made 83 percent of all field goal attempts. Who wouldn’t want this guy kicking for them in the pressure-cooker that is the Super Bowl?
So between all the commercials Super Bowl Sunday, look for No. 3 out there doing his job and doing it well, at an age when most of us will be talking about glory days – not living them. No one knows what the future holds for all of us, but hopefully we can all be doing something we still love, even at age 42. We might not get the recognition we deserve, but then again Matt Stover probably doesn’t either. I, for one, hope I’m still bringing my best stuff in my profession even when I’m considered “too old.” Besides, it’s not how old you are, but how old you feel, right? For the sake of Matt and the Colts, let’s hope so.