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Ever wondered which Super Bowl teams were the oldest or youngest? I went and calculated the AV-adjusted age of every team to appear in the Super Bowl. (AV stands for Pro-Football-Reference’s Approximate Value system, which assigns an approximate value to each player in each season; you can read more about it here.) You can probably guess who the oldest team was, but the youngest might be a bit of a surprise. Baltimore and San Francisco both come in roughly in the middle of the pack, with the Ravens slightly older than the 49ers. This also jives with Football Outsiders’ snap-adjusted ages article.

Bill Barnwell wrote a good article yesterday summarizing the success of Ozzie Newsome, the Baltimore Ravens general manager. That made me curious to see what percentage (based on AV, not total players, naturally) of the players on each Super Bowl team had never before played for another team. Great general managers do more than build their teams through the draft (and Barnwell specifically praised Newsome for that, including the trade for Anquan Boldin), but the question of what percentage of the team is “homegrown” is still an interesting one.

For the Ravens, 73% of their players (as measured by AV) have never played for another team, with Boldin, Cary Williams, Jacoby Jones, Bryant McKinnie, Matt Birk, Bernard Pollard, Corey Graham, and Vontae Leach being some notable exceptions. On the other side, 75% of the 49ers have only worn the red and gold, although Justin Smith, Jonathan Goodwin, Randy Moss, Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers, Mario Manningham (at least, in the regular season) were key contributors who are not home-grown 49ers.

When it comes to AV-adjusted age or measuring how ‘home-grown’ each team is, neither team really stands out from the pack. The ’78 and ’79 Steelers featured 22 starters that were all home-grown, although making placekicker Roy Gerela the lone outlier (and since AV does not include kickers, both Pittsburgh teams were at 100%).

In addition to the AV-adjusted ages and “home-grownness” of each Super Bowl participant, the table below includes where each team (since 1970) ranked in points for, points allowed, yards, and yards allowed, and whether or not the team won the game. The table is fully sortable and searchable, and the rows for San Francisco and Baltimore will remain highlighted after sorting.

Year
Tm
Age
Home
PF
PA
Yds
YdsA
W/L
2012SFO27.775112113L
2012BAL28.47310121617W
2011NYG27.677925827W
2011NWE28.562315231L
2010GNB27.68410295W
2010PIT28.977121142L
2009IND27.89378918L
2009NOR28.157120125W
2008PIT28.778201221W
2008ARI28.267328419L
2007NYG27.9691417167W
2007NWE28.8651414L
2006IND2895223321W
2006CHI27.76823155L
2005PIT27.98093154W
2005SEA28.25917216L
2004NWE28.2664279W
2004PHI27.96682910L
2003NWE28.766121177W
2003CAR27.7601510168L
2002TAM28.963181241W
2002OAK30.74326111L
2001STL28.5581713L
2001NWE28.554661924W
2000NYG28.171155135L
2000BAL28.453141162W
1999TEN27.8787151317L
1999STL27691416W
1998DEN30.15428311W
1998ATL29.3484478L
1997GNB28.3692547L
1997DEN29.6501615W
1996NWE26.769214719L
1996GNB28.2621151W
1995DAL28.8833359W
1995PIT27.8715963L
1994SFO29.2661628W
1994SDG27.757591114L
1993BUF29.18475627L
1993DAL27.28322410W
1992BUF29.188314212L
1992DAL27712541W
1991BUF28.882219127L
1991WAS29.3631243W
1990BUF27.8841668L
1990NYG27.983151172W
1989SFO28.2901314W
1989DEN27.38881153L
1988CIN27.295116115L
1988SFO27.6947823W
1987WAS27.28546318W
1987DEN27.3854729L
1986DEN28.199615159L
1986NYG27.59282102W
1985NWE28.19610697L
1985CHI27.2882171W
1984MIA27.59117119L
1984SFO28.27921210W
1983WAS27.975111312L
1983RAI28.67031374W
1982MIA27.391102191L
1982WAS27.27712174W
1981CIN27.397312212L
1981SFO26.57572132W
1980PHI28.3776182L
1980OAK28.4577101611W
1979PIT28.81001512W
1979RAM27.9881511137L
1978PIT28.31005183W
1978DAL28.3971322L
1977DAL27.9952811W
1977DEN27.581103179L
1976OAK28.581412218W
1976MIN29.5689266L
1975DAL28.2968935L
1975PIT27.2955274W
1974PIT26.6956281W
1974MIN28.86853310L
1973MIA27.7765193W
1973MIN29.66092712L
1972MIA27.4711111W
1972WAS29.85073114L
1971DAL29841713W
1971MIA26.4734355L
1970DAL288610444L
1970BAL27.8816789W
1969KAN27.790W
1969MIN2868L
1968NYJ27.486W
1968BAL2973L
1967GNB29.281W
1967OAK26.954L
1966KAN27.186L
1966GNB29.276W
{ 25 comments }
  • Danish January 31, 2013, 11:34 am

    The narrative of the back-to-back Broncos was that they were a team of veteran castoffs from other teams. This is supported by these numbers.

    In case anyone is interested: A regression of “Home” on “Year” gives a coefficient of -0.331 with a p-value of 0.0014 and R^2 of 0,106. Free agency, folks.

    Reply
    • Chase Stuart January 31, 2013, 12:50 pm

      I guess I don’t remember that as the narrative. I think of them as based around players like Elway, TD, Sharpe, Nalen, Atwater, and Rod Smith, all of whom were homegrown players. But yeah, players like Tony Jones, Harry Swayne, McCaffrey, and Romanowski were vets brought in from other teams. And, of course, their most important player was Mark Schlereth, and he started out in Washington.

      Reply
      • Danish January 31, 2013, 1:50 pm

        Never mind. Just checked the Americas Game episode, and the story is something like “Nobody wanted these guys, but Shanahan made ‘em work together”. This way the narrative (which may be in hindsight) can include low-round draftpicks (Nalen, TD, Sharpe, Rod Smith).

        I’ve only known of the NFL since 2006, so everything i know of football before that is second hand.

        Reply
    • Richie January 31, 2013, 4:53 pm

      If you sort the chart by home-grownness, of the 40 most home-grown teams, 37 of them came before free agency (I forget exactly when free agency started, but I think about 1994. The 93 Bills and 95 Cowboys are in that list of 40 teams, but the cores of those teams were built before free agency.) The only 3 recent teams to have a high HOME rating were the two Indianapolis teams and the 2010 Packers.

      Reply
  • willgfass January 31, 2013, 12:46 pm

    For the 2007/2011 Giants, is it fair to assume Manning is included as a “home grown” player, since you said never played for another team, and not drafted by that team, as some people would put?

    Reply
    • Chase Stuart January 31, 2013, 12:47 pm

      That is correct.

      Reply
  • Chase Stuart January 31, 2013, 1:14 pm

    There are many reasons not to calculate the average of the four ranks, but I will note that if you do that, the ’11 Giants are the worst SB team by far, with the ’12 Ravens and ’01 Patriots as the next worst. Ironically, of course, the Giants and Pats both won; the next two worse teams are the ’08 Cardinals and ’07 Giants, followed by the ’99 Titans. None of them performed too badly in the SB, either.

    I think even those without a calculator can figure out which team would have the best average of the ranks.

    Reply
  • Randy Marcus January 31, 2013, 3:45 pm

    Dumb question, but what does AV stand for?

    Reply
  • Randy Marcus January 31, 2013, 3:57 pm

    Thanks for the clarification. Great content and love the statistical detail. Look forward to being a long-time reader.

    Reply
    • Chase Stuart January 31, 2013, 3:58 pm

      Much appreciated. We’re a pretty friendly group here.

      Reply
  • Richie January 31, 2013, 4:51 pm

    I was going to guess the 1970 Colts as the oldest team, but they are mid-pack. The ’68 Colts were much older.

    Reply
  • Arjun January 31, 2013, 6:37 pm

    Wasn’t free agency much more restricted in the era in which the Steelers played? I seem to recall that at least in Lombardi’s time, the team had full and permanent rights to a player for as long as they wanted them and that the more liberal free agency didn’t happen until sometime in the 1980s or 1990s? Is there perhaps a good demarcation for “modern free agency” to compare “homegrownness” in apples-to-apples manner?

    Reply
    • Chase Stuart January 31, 2013, 6:40 pm

      Yes, Arjun. As Richie mentioned, free agency began in 1993, with Reggie White signing with the Packers that year. Trades were much more common during the earlier eras, however.

      Reply
      • Arjun January 31, 2013, 6:48 pm

        Ah yes, I missed that comment by Richie. I think that a big reason that (top) teams might have fewer homegrown players is being unable to afford all the talent they bring in through the draft. Even if trades were more common back then, they were still going to be trades of convenience (filling needs by dealing players they didn’t consider integral) rather than, say, no longer being able to afford Joe Greene.

        Reply
        • Chase Stuart January 31, 2013, 7:02 pm

          Yes, absolutely. We won’t see any teams like the late ’70s Steelers again.

          Reply

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