THOUSAND OAKS, Calif .– Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who arrived in Los Angeles five seasons ago, now has a lot more salt and a lot less pepper.
The wisdom he brought after 11 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals to the Los Angeles Rams continues to stand the test of time while constantly evolving. After a loss at Super Bowl LIII, Whitworth said the easiest way to get over it was to remember, “At the end of the day, we’re all going to die.”
And the best way to stay relevant and adapt with the NFL? “Be like a tree,” he said earlier this season. “Either you grow up or you die.”
Whitworth’s teammates with the Rams call him Big Whit, Big Uncle, Unc, Big Brother and sometimes other iterations that all mean, in the nicest way, the old man on the team.
“He’s about 500 years old or whatever you want to be,” said smiling coach Sean McVay, who is five years younger than Whitworth. “I always pester him somehow, but it’s really a compliment backwards because I’m probably just jealous that I couldn’t do what he did.”
When the Rams (8-4) take on the Arizona Cardinals (10-2) on Monday night at State Farm Stadium (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), Whitworth will do what no one else has, according to Elias. . Sports Bureau: Start an NFL game on left tackle at age 40.
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“It’s pretty amazing, it’s awesome,” said Whitworth, 39, days before her birthday on Sunday. “I will be definitely moved about it and very grateful.”
Whitworth insisted his wife, Melissa, cancel an over the hill extravaganza, saying it wasn’t much for birthdays. But he’s willing to admit it’s pretty cool to have turned 40 in the NFL, achieving a goal he set for himself several years ago.
“Being here, thinking about everything I’ve been through,” said Whitworth, a second-round pick in the 2006 draft, “it’s pretty crazy.
On Monday, Whitworth will join Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady as the second 40-year-old currently playing in the league, a feat only 71 other players have accomplished in NFL history. And he will become only the fifth offensive lineman since NFL merger to play in a game at age 40, joining Rams Hall of Fame Jackie Slater, Jeff Van Note, Hall of Fame Bruce Matthews and Ray Brown.
Four-time Pro Bowl and two All-Pro draft pick, Whitworth has played 235 of 252 possible games in his career and isn’t showing much, if any, signs of slowing down in his 16th season.
“He’s certainly meant a lot to this organization on and off the pitch,” McVay said of Whitworth, who was one of his first free agent rookies when he became coach in 2017. “I think sometimes you take for granted he’s 40. years old. If you didn’t know with bald head and stuff like that i mean he moves like he’s young and he has great athleticism. “
In a week 3 against the defending Super Bowl champions Buccaneers, Whitworth threw his 6-foot-7, 330-pound giant to the ground to recover a fumble in a 34-24 win.
He ranks third among NFL tackles with a 93.3% win rate, behind New Orleans Saints tackle Ryan Ramczyk and Philadelphia Eagles tackle Lane Johnson. He was instrumental in securing the Rams a 68% tag team win rate, which ranks him second in the NFL behind the Cleveland Browns.
He’s helped keep quarterback Matthew Stafford standing as the 13th-year quarterback has been sacked 17 times this season, which is tied for second among quarterbacks who have started at least 11 games.
Firmly grounded as a leader within the team and the community, Whitworth continues to find a way to build relationships with his young teammates. The Rams roster is an average age of 26.1, making him the third youngest in the NFL (league average age is 26.7).
He’s always prepared with advice, but also finds ways to remind his much younger teammates that he once was in them – though they’d never guess when he plays some of his favorite R&B classics, songs that leave teammates asking questions, “Who’s that playlist?” According to Whitworth.
“He’s one of my best friends on the team and obviously it’s amazing to play for someone who’s been playing for so long and has so much knowledge, but who can still do the things he does at his age, at his – you know – advanced age, “said wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who makes a regular trip to home games with Whitworth. “And as tall as him, being able to do the things he does is pretty amazing.”
In a 37-7 victory over Jacksonville last Sunday, Whitworth laughed when a Jaguars player asked him how old he was during a TV timeout.
“He came up to me and he said, ‘Hey man, be honest with me, how old are you? “” Whitworth said, telling him he was 39 years old. “He said, ‘Are you kidding me ?! You’re not … give me secrets.'”
Last season, in a 30-10 victory over the Washington soccer team, Whitworth had a similar encounter.
“Mount Sweat and Chase Young were a bit next to each other talking and obviously I was up against them because they switched sides during the game,” he said. he tells. “I could tell they were both pointing fingers at me, and finally they just had to yell at me, ‘Hey! How old are you?’ and I was like, ‘I’m 39!’ and they say ‘No way!’ “
Whitworth said his own offensive line had a good laugh at the situation, as Sweat and Young made sure their entire team knew they were lining up in front of someone nearly twice their age.
“It blew them away to think I’m that old,” Whitworth said with a laugh.
“It’s amazing he’s doing it again,” said former Whitworth teammate, Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff after they clashed in a Week 7 game. ” That’s what i told her [after the game]. I said, ‘I don’t know how you do it yet.’ He’s as good as them. “
Whitworth says the key to her longevity has been pampering her body with a diet that includes everything from yoga to mixed martial arts, with plenty of sauna trips in between.
As to whether 40 years could mark the end of a career for Whitworth?
It seems unlikely, given that he says he’s enjoying the game now more than ever.
“For me the only way to retire is there should be a situation the Rams can’t afford financially or there’s just a way it doesn’t work for both of us for me to be back. “said Whitworth. “So that would really be the only scenario where I would really see myself retiring.”