Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Brett Favre’s Consecutive Games Streak Ends

with one comment

Brett Favre sat out this past Monday night for the first time in nineteen years, and his consecutive games started/played streak ended at 297.  Favre has been troubled with many injuries this year, including a broken ankle, a knee issue (maybe related to having to run about on the broken ankle), shoulder problems, and now he’s unable to grip the football without feeling numbness, tingling or pain.  (He’s not talking much about the pain, but if for some reason he’s dodged physical pain with this issue — unlikely — assuredly he has mental pain regarding his current inability to use his primary talent.)

A brief comparison with the “Iron Man” of professional baseball, Cal Ripken, is in order.  Favre’s streak started in 1992 and continued until nearly the end of 2010, spanning nineteen years.  (Favre has played twenty years in the National Football League, but in his first year he was a little-used backup QB in Atlanta.)  Whereas Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 2632 games played streak in baseball was over sixteen years — both are considered “Iron Men,” incredibly tough, gifted individuals who refused to take days off, who refused to give up on their teams, and who are revered because of everything they were as players, and for everything they’ve given to their sports.

Some have argued that because there are three current QBs with an active streak (Philip Rivers has 78, Eli Manning has 100, and Peyton Manning has 205 games played in a row), plus two more active QBs with long streaks (Tom Brady had 111 straight, I believe, before he got injured and missed most of 2008, while Drew Brees had a streak of 79 games played in a row that ended in December of ’09) that perhaps it doesn’t really mean as much in football to start all these games in a row as it does in baseball.

Au contraire, mon frére — it’s an interesting statisical anomaly, yes, that there are now six QBs in history with 100 or more starts in a row.  But Favre’s streak — which, when added to his playoff games, was actually 321 games in a row — is exceptional for two reasons.

1) He holds the consecutive games played streak for ALL NFL PLAYERS, not just quarterbacks **


2) Over the years he continued to play despite a busted thumb on his throwing hand, a broken ankle, a number of concussions (he was always taken promptly out of games as soon as someone knew there was a problem, fortunately for him), and more than a few injuries to his throwing shoulder and elbow.  Any of these injuries, even the least of them, could easily have kept him out of action for a week or more, ending his streak far sooner . . . yet somehow, Favre always found a way to recover in time for next week’s game.

It is extremely unusual that Favre has been able to overcome all that just to keep playing; that for the most part he’s played brilliantly, exceptionally, and has been one of the top quarterbacks in football for at least the last 15 years (save this year) just goes to show how special a player Favre has been over time.  He’s combined longevity, toughness, intelligence and heart in a unique way and has exemplified the best aspects of his sport over a long period of time.  We definitely will not see his like again even if, by some remote chance, Peyton Manning or someone else equals or surpasses Favre’s streak down the line.

The guy who’s second in the NFL behind Favre in consecutive games played/started is former Viking defensive end Jim Marshall — Marshall had 270 games played with an additional nineteen playoff games, bringing his consecutive games streak total to 289 overall.  Marshall had the overall NFL record for over thirty years before handing it off to Favre, and it was thought for many years that Marshall’s streak would never be broken, or tied, or equalled.  (And it hasn’t been, by a defensive end.)

Granted, quarterbacks have an offensive line that’s paid to protect them, but they also are the most vulnerable player on the field for many reasons, far too many to list here.  It’s almost miraculous that Favre was able to play for so long and overcome so many injuries; it’s fitting, in a way, that it took a triple-pronged attack of injuries — a broken foot, shoulder problems, and an aching hand with numbness and tingling — in order to end Favre’s streak.

So please, do not let the “argument” that there are six quarterbacks who’ve played 100 games straight or more, two of them with active streaks (the Manning brothers), stop you for appreciating Brett Favre’s historic accomplishment.

A very good Time magazine article asks the question, “Why did we take Brett Favre’s streak for granted?”  A relevant quote follows, with the link following that (as is apparently Time magazine’s preference):

Cal Ripken played 2,632 straight games for the Baltimore Orioles. That streak is revered; the night Ripken passed Gehrig back in 1995 became a national celebration – even the President showed up. But wasn’t Favre’s streak much more difficult to pull off? What’s harder: standing on a baseball field for an hour or two, everyday, playing shortstop, or lining up under center once a week in football, where very large men are paid very large sums of money to knock you out of the game? Favre’s body got buried in the turf every game, but he kept bouncing back up. He played with broken bones. He took a mental pounding too: Favre played one of the best games of his career, back in 2003, the day after learning that his father had died.

No disrespect to Ripken: in a daily endeavor like baseball, there’s certainly more opportunities for a freak accident that could stall such a streak. But baseball has always been a sport that overvalues its numbers. Since it is played at a slower pace than other games, there’s more time to ruminate on individual feats. So let’s give Favre his due; he’s the ultimate Iron Man in pro sports history.

Read more:

*** End quote ***

When at his best, Brett Favre could elevate an entire team and carry them on his back, willing them to play better — we saw it for seventeen seasons in Green Bay, we saw it in New York when he was with the Jets (until he had arm issues later in the season), and we’ve seen it now for two years in Minnesota.

So now, Favre’s streak is over; his team, the Vikings, will not make the playoffs this year.  He may not be able to play again with his injuries, as they are extensive and painful, which is a real shame.  This will undoubtedly be his last year as a professional football player — he’s just too injured now, and he knows it.

What’s really sad is that the Vikings backup QB, Tarvaris Jackson, was placed on the injured reserve list (meaning he can’t play again this season) earlier today.  Favre most likely will not play this week, either; right now he’s helping the coaches with the third-string QB Joe Webb and getting NFL veteran QB Patrick Ramsay (signed earlier this week for depth purposes) up to speed on the offense.  That’s a good thing — Favre, according to retired QBs Trent Dilfer and Steve Young (the latter a Hall of Famer), has, in their parlance, “forgotten more football than other people know.”  Favre has already said that he’ll be glad to help Webb, Ramsay or anyone else who gets in there while he’s unable to play, which is a classy move, one that goes strongly against his image as a “prima donna” or “diva.”  (I’ve always wondered how much of that was overblown, especially as most of the teammates he’s ever been around have had nothing but good things to say about him as a player.)

I will miss seeing Brett Favre’s infectious enthusiasm on the field, and will miss seeing Favre’s scrambling plays that most of the time hit their target — something very, very few QBs in the history of the NFL could ever do — even though once in a while it did result in a costly interception (or two).

The NFL will not be the same without Brett Favre as an active player, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.


** Jeff Feagles, a punter, holds the special teams record for consecutive games played and actually has more years of service and more games of service than Brett Favre, but because punters are never in the starting line-up these days, and because punters sometimes are active for the game and get credit for being available for the game if there’s no need for punting (it’s rare, but it happens), he is not considered the “Iron Man” of professional football.  (He is, however, appreciated mightily by folks like me, who recognize excellence and perseverence when we see it whether it’s Feagles, the punter, or Favre, the quarterback or Marshall, the DE.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 17, 2010 at 4:58 am

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. keep up with the good job!


    December 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: