Love him or hate him, Brett Favre has accomplished feats that may never be challenged.
No. 4 retires with the most interceptions and touchdowns thrown all time, and has also probably appeared in the most Wrangler Jeans commercials, too.
Cal Ripken, too, has his share of memorable accomplishments, including 19 consecutive All-Star selections, and eight Silver Slugger awards as a shortstop.
But perhaps what both Favre and Ripken are both most known for are their streaks of consecutive games started, each of which is the best all time in his respective sport.
Should this be Favre’s final retirement, he will finish his career having started 309 games in a row, the most by any skill-position player in football history.
Ripken, now enshrined in Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame, finished his career having started 2,632 games in a row before removing himself from the Orioles lineup in his last home game of the 1998 season.
Both streaks are impressive, so let’s compare the two.
Let’s be fair to Favre here—Ripken wasn’t getting tackled and beaten to the ground every time he walked on the field.
But then again, Favre wasn’t walking on the field nearly every day for six straight months.
Here’s the case for Favre:
Football is a physical game where players get hurt all the time. The fact that Favre never suffered a serious injury (think Vinny Testaverde or Tom Brady) is remarkable.
To get to 309 games, Favre needed to stick around the league a long time (19 seasons) and play in the playoffs. Neither would have been achievable if he wasn’t very good at his trade.
Favre had to play most of his career in a division that required him to play in Green Bay and Chicago in freezing temperatures.
Here’s the case for Ripken:
Ripken started more than 2,600 consecutive games over 17 seasons.
To play for 20 seasons like Ripken did would have required longevity and skill.
Although an average or above average player could hypothetically challenge Ripken’s streak, his attempt would be cut short when a better player came along.
The fact that in 17 seasons Ripken never sat once for a rest day is impressive. Favre usually had a week to recover between games, whereas Ripken had to play day games directly following a night game.
And while in the NFL you don’t see a player take a day off, you see it all the time now in baseball. A 162 game season plus the playoffs can be grueling, and teams want their stars to be rested.
Summary: Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2130 consecutive games started was more difficult to break. Point to Ripken.
This one’s a no-brainer; it has to be Favre’s—saying one of the streaks will be broken, that is.
First off, there are too many easy ways for Favre’s record to fall, most notably punters and kickers count.
But the biggest threat to Favre’s streak is another quarterback, Peyton Manning.
Manning is currently 99 games behind Favre with 210.
Projecting Manning plays 17 games a season (16 regular season and at least one playoff game)—at this clip, Manning will break Favre’s record sometime during the 2015 season (six seasons from now).
Ripken’s streak, especially in this day and age, is virtually untouchable.
Stars of the game, who have the best shot of even playing 17 or 18 seasons, get hurt too easily, or get off days too frequently.
The closest a player has come to challenging Ripken was in 2007, when Miguel Tejada’s streak of 1152 games started ended. Tejada’s streak is the fifth best of all time.
To put things in perspective, as of July 10, 2010, Prince Fielder had played in the most consecutive baseball games of any active player.
To that date, fielder had played 273 games, about 10 percent of Ripken’s record.
Side note: It is also worth noting that Hideki Matsui is officially credited with playing 518 straight games to start his MLB career, which is a record.
If you also count his games started streak from Japan, which only ended because he went to the Yankees, Matsui had a streak of 1,768 games started snapped in May 2006 from a broken wrist.
Side note over, the clear winner in this one is Ripken. Favre's record falls first.
Going along the same lines as the previous question, Ripken’s streak is more difficult to break than Favre’s.
In principle, Ripken’s should be easier because there’s far less physical strain on the body in a baseball game than a football game.
But that might have been the case 10, 20, or 50 years ago, and not anymore.
Players today go on the disabled list for injuries that are, generally speaking, minor.
Take Stephen Strasburg, who went on the DL for shoulder inflammation, and should be fine. No tear, no pull, just some swelling. You think Cy Young or Christy Mathewson ever sat out a start because of inflammation?
Didn’t think so.
And even if a player doesn’t go on the DL for a minor injury, he’ll likely be given a day or two off, or a pitcher might have his start skipped.
Favre’s is difficult to break because at any time a football player can get hurt.
A quarterback could be sacked and twist his ankle, or sprain his wrist. A kicker doesn’t have the shelf life he used to, and neither do punters. Owners and GMs no longer tolerate mediocre play from these positions.
Once again, point Ripken.
Now this might be the fairest comparison between the two streaks.
Ripken started his streak in 1982, and Favre in 1992. Those were each very different times from now.
Favre played through nagging injuries, as did Ripken on occasion. Heck, Favre finished the 2008 season with the Jets with a torn muscle in his throwing arm.
Granted, the injury was a factor in the decline of his level of play and cost the Jets a playoff berth, but he still played, and started nonetheless.
For the most part, Ripken’s streak spanned an era in baseball where players weren’t given days off because of fatigue.
In Favre’s case, football was a different game in the early 1990s.
Padding was not as effective as in today’s game, and there were far fewer rules to protect the quarterback (credit Tom Brady for those).
Favre’s endurance at the beginning of his career was impressive, as was his early success.
In fact, Favre’s overall endurance throughout his career is remarkable and commendable. Nineteen seasons in the NFL is quite the feat.
While Ripken’s streak spanned "only" 17 seasons, it’s hard to ignore the fact that baseball’s season starts in April, and ends in September or October, or six to seven months.
Football starts in September and ends in January, with the exception being the Super Bowl, which gets played later each season.
(It feels like soon enough the Super Bowl will be played in March or April, and then a game played in New York won’t seem that bad.)
But back to the streaks: It’s hard to argue against Ripken here.
Favre’s streak is impressive, especially for a player that’s not a punter/kicker. But at most he played 20 games in a season, with one week off in between games.
The one week off between games is key, because it allowed Favre to recover from minor injuries.
Ripken was never afforded that luxury.
In the end, the nod goes to the Orioles shortstop/third baseman.
Congratulations, Mr. Ripken.