In 2022, Geno Smith was the starting QB for the Seattle Seahawks Week 1. This is his first Week 1 start since 2014.

Is this the longest such gap in NFL history?

I searched for players who had long careers but gaps of playing time in their careers.

  • Doug Flutie, career start in 1986, didn't start a Week 1 game until 1999.
  • Rich Gannon had a 7-year gap between Week 1 starts (1992, 1999).

1 Answer 1


It was not the longest period; Zeke Bratkowski for the Packers in 1971 started after previously starting a week one game in 1962. Per the AP:

When Smith starts on Monday night, he’ll be the first QB in 50 years with at least an eight-year gap between opening day starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous was Zeke Bratkowski who went nine years between opening day starts from 1962 to 1971. Bratkowski was 39 when he made that start in 1971 for Green Bay.

Arguably, it's the first time since the merger, given Bratkowski's first start was before the merger.

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