Call the nursing home: counting down the 10 oldest active CFL players

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The Canadian Football League underwent a changing of the guard on Saturday when Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl announced his retirement after 15 professional seasons.

The ratio-breaking right tackle didn’t see the field much in his final campaign but held the distinction of being the CFL’s oldest player at 40 years old. Now that the future Hall of Famer has stepped away from the game, that title has passed to another.

No current player is even close to touching legendary Bombers punter Bob Cameron’s record age of 48 years and four months, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few grey hairs around the league. The following list highlights the very oldest of the bunch.

For our purposes, the ages listed are how old the players will be on June 6, 2024 — the day the regular season opens. Only players currently on a roster are eligible, meaning that current free agents like defensive tackle Almondo Sewell — who would have qualified at 37 years, four months, and 21 days — aren’t included.

Are the following athletes past their prime or aging like fine wine? You be the judge.

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10. DT Micah Johnson, Saskatchewan Roughriders — 35 years, 11 months, and 15 days

Saskatchewan’s stalwart interior pass rusher is the lone defensive player on this list and the only 35-year-old, edging out Elks’ quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson by just 12 days. It’s fair to say that Johnson’s star has faded somewhat from his dominating peak in 2018, but the six-time Divisional all-star is still a force to be reckoned with. He notched another five sacks last year, adding to his career total of 59 amassed over 10 years with the Riders, Ticats, and Stampeders.

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9. K Dean Faithfull, Edmonton Elks — 37 years and 14 days

It might seem ridiculous but you can thank the CFL’s Global program for a second-year player making this list. A former British soccer player, Faithfull connected on 22-of-28 field goal attempts as a middle-aged rookie last season, capturing fans’ hearts with his royal wave after nailing a game-winner. With the recent addition of Boris Bede, this feel-good story is probably bound for the chopping block in training camp. Enjoy the tea and crumpets while they last!

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8. LS Mike Benson, Winnipeg Blue Bombers — 37 years and 24 days

A veteran of 11 CFL seasons, Benson has been under contract with six of the league’s nine clubs. His last three campaigns have come with his hometown Blue Bombers, where he was able to capture a Grey Cup ring in 2021. The life of a long-snapper is rarely a statistically significant one, but the Acadia product holds the rare distinction of having scored a touchdown while playing football’s most overlooked position.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant /

7. LS Aaron Crawford, Calgary Stampeders — 37 years, eight months, and 14 days

A former sixth-round pick of the Toronto Argonauts, Crawford bounced around to the Riders and Bombers in his first two seasons before he latched on long-term with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. When he was released after seven years in Steeltown, the Medicine Hat native returned to Alberta as a Stampeder and is entering year four of his second chapter. Not bad for a player who could have been toast after blowing out his ACL and meniscus in 2017.

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6. QB Trevor Harris, Saskatchewan Roughriders — 38 years and six days

Somewhat surprisingly, Saskatchewan’s franchise pivot is the only quarterback to crack this top ten, with his 38th birthday coming on the eve of training camp cuts. Harris certainly won’t be in jeopardy of becoming one of those, as the Riders are betting big on the Waldo, Oh. native as he enters year 12. Coming off a season-ending tibial plateau fracture in 2023, Harris may be reconsidering promises to play into his forties but still has some juice left.

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5. OL Stanley Bryant, Winnipeg Blue Bombers — 38 years and 30 days

“Living legend” is the only way to properly describe Winnipeg’s grizzled left tackle, as Bryant will waltz into the Hall of Fame whenever he decides to hang them up. With seven CFL all-star selections, four Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman trophies, and three Grey Cup rings, there is nothing left for him to accomplish before being named the greatest blocker in Canadian history. Nevertheless, the North Carolina product has decided to run it back for a 14th CFL season, his ninth in blue and gold.

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4. OL Philip Blake, Saskatchewan Roughriders — 38 years, six months, and 10 days

There is shockingly little wear on Blake’s tires for a man his age, as the former fourth-round NFL draft pick didn’t play a snap in his first three years as a pro. Since the Toronto native came back to Canada in 2015, he’s proven capable of doing it all in stints with the Alouettes, Argos, and Riders. A rare National who can start at both guard and tackle, the 2022 East Division all-star’s early injury last year was as big a blow to Saskatchewan’s plans as any.

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions

3. K Sean Whyte, B.C. Lions — 38 years, seven months, and 14 days

It seems that Whyte is only getting better with age, as the Canadian Junior Football League product was named a CFL all-star for the first time in 2023 after connecting on 50-of-53 kicks — a whopping 94.3 percent. That award comes 17 years after the pride of White Rock, B.C. first began practicing with the Lions as a territorial exemption in 2007. He’s been a model of efficiency through stops in Montreal and Edmonton as well, boasting a career 87.8 field goal percentage that is second in league history.

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2. OL Kristian Matte, Montreal Alouettes — 38 years, nine months, and three days

Matte played a whole 13 seasons of football between Grey Cup victories, touching the coveted chalice first as a rookie and again as a wily vet last year. The Alouettes’ first-round draft pick from 2010 is the lone player on this list, except for the anomalous Faithfull, to spend his entire career with one franchise, never leaving his home province. More than a few youngsters could stand to learn from him, as the two-time East Division all-star is still an elite starter at guard in the league.

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography

1. K Rene Paredes, Calgary Stampeders — 39 years and 22 days

It seems that every offseason carries speculation regarding Paredes’ retirement but El Matador keeps waving that red flag. The Venezuelan-born kicker’s 13 seasons in Calgary have placed him ninth all-time in career regular-season points with 2,129, while his 87.5 percent accuracy trails only Whyte and Ottawa’s Lewis Ward. Perhaps more remarkably, the five-time CFL all-star was a university teammate of Matte, with the two oldest players in Canada hailing from the same Concordia Stingers squad.

Honourable old-heads (over the age of 35): QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, EDM | QB Zach Collaros, WPG | QB Jeremiah Masoli, OTT | DE Shawn Lemon, MTL | LB Adam Bighill, WPG | OL Patrick Neufeld, WPG | OL David Foucault, EDM