Feagles and Carney still kicking in NFL at 40-plus

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Finding Jeff Feagles and John Carney in the New York Giants' locker room isn't hard.

The first hint might be the contents of their lockers. Look for the ones with the bottles of Geritol, the packages of Depend undergarments and the occasional AARP memberships offers, all courtesy of their young teammates.

If that isn't enough, ask linebacker and long snapper Zak DeOssie where to find them.

"You mean 'Pops' and 'Grandpa?'" DeOssie said.

And if that doesn't lead to Carney and Feagles, just look for the two bald guys who look more like assistant coaches than football players.
President Bush mistook Feagles for a coach when the Giants were honored for their Super Bowl championship at the White House in April.

If it sounds like Feagles and Carney are a little out of place, in a sense they are. They are defying Mother Nature as the oldest active players in the NFL, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Carney, 44, is the place-kicker. The 42-year-old Feagles is the punter and the holder on extra points and field goals

Don't feel sorry for the old guys. They are special special teams guys.

Carney, signed before the start of the season when Lawrence Tynes injured a knee, is leading the NFL with 90 points. He has hit all 27 of his extra points and 21 of 22 field goal attempts. The only one he missed was blocked.

Feagles is seventh in the league in punting with a net average of 39.8 yards.

"I am more afraid to fail than anything and that is what has kept me working hard and taking each game one by one and concentrating on the offseason to see what I can do to get better," Feagles said. "That's what has kept me around so long."

There are at least six Giants coaches that are younger than Feagles and Carney, including special teams coach Tom Quinn, their boss.
Jay Alford, who snaps on the field goal and extra point attempts, laughs about both players being old enough to be his father.

"Both of them make my job so easy," Alford said. "They may be old, but they work out hard. John is 44 and when we are practicing there are times you'll see him running the escalators in the stadium. It's weird. He doesn't have to do that, but he does."

Feagles is the same way, and remarkably he might be in the best shape of his career, thanks to his son, C.J., who recently agreed to attend North Carolina as a punter. He will play for Butch Davis, one of Feagles coaches when he attended Miami in the 1980s.

"By working with his technique for the last year and a half it has forced me to do things I have to do," Feagles said. "It's a refresher course. Usually I put the balls away at the end of the season and doesn't touch them until May. This year I was in unbelievable shape."

Feagles and Carney are both are in their 21st NFL season, tying them for fourth overall for longest tenure in the league with three others. They admit special teams have changed over the past two decades.

Where either a tight end or lineman was the snapper when they started in 1988, now every team has at least one snapper, along with kick returners and coverage people.

"If you look at the best special teams units, those coaches will have a handful of playmakers that the coach and management allow him to keep," Carney said. "They may never get in the mix to be a starter, but they are special teams aces who make special plays throughout the year."

One thing that hasn't changed is that the kickers work on their own. They get about 10 minutes with the team and then do their own thing, watching videotapes, lifting, stretching and kicking.

"If somebody said we had to do as much as the other guys we probably would not know what to do with ourselves," Feagles said. "... Out of sight, out of mind is our motto."

These old guys do fit in, though.

Rookie safety Kenny Phillips, the youngest player on the team at 21, said the old-timers "carry themselves like they are young men. They have a good time, but it is definitely weird seeing them on the team." "I just try to act more immature so I can fit in," Carney quipped. "The guys are great. You expect the razzing and the hazing because some of them are young enough to almost be your son, but it's fun. I have had an opportunity to play with a couple of different generations and it's been exciting to see young guys come in, enter the league and watch them mature into veterans."

Neither Carney nor Feagles seems concerned about the future.

"Once you get to a certain age, you take it year by year," Feagles said. "If you have an organization like the Giants that believes I can do things at my age, that makes it a lot easier."

Added Carney: "I just feel fortunate and blessed and I thank God for the ability, perseverance and the opportunities. It has been a great ride and as long as I feel physically capable, I will try to push the limits."