Comparing the Legendary Consecutive Game Streaks: Cal Ripken Jr. vs. Brett Favre

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIIDecember 16, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 05:  Brett Favre #4 (right) of the Minnesota Vikings sits on the sideline  against the Buffalo Bills defense at the Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on December 5, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

They are probably the two most well known streaks in the history of professional sports: Cal Ripken Jr and Brett Favre's consecutive games streaks.

They are highly debated by sports fans, and with the ending of Favre's streak, I decided to settle once and for all the impossible question: Whose streak is more impressive, Cal Ripken Jr's or Brett Favre's?

The Case for Cal Ripken Jr:

Cal Ripken Jr played 2632 consecutive games, starting on May 30, 1982, and ending on September 20, 1998.

Even more incredibly, Ripken played 8243 consecutive innings (about 900 games) from June 5, 1982 to September 14, 1987, the unofficial major league record. (However, this is irrelevant to his streak, as nowhere does the streak require that a player participate in every inning.)

Baseball players participate in a grueling schedule. They play 162 games throughout the regular season, and up to 19 more in the postseason.

The baseball season lasts from approximately the start of April to the end of September. That's 162 games played in about 180 days, or 90 percent of days. There's almost no time for a day off.

If a baseball player suffers an injury, he's going to miss a game. It's just about a guarantee. Unlike football players, baseball players don't have six or seven days to heal before their next game. It's 24 hours later (sometimes fewer) or not at all.

Ripken played a very demanding position: shortstop. Except for catcher, the shortstop is involved in more action than any other player. He is the most important defensive player and is constantly fielding grounders and diving for line drives.

The shortstop also has runners sliding into second base with their spikes out, their sole goal being to take out the shortstop. The chance of injury exists almost every time Ripken touched the ball or was involved in a play.

Let's take a look at the current leader for consecutive games played.

It's Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers, with 204 games. He's only 2428 games played short of Ripken's streak. Better watch out Cal!

Ripken surpassed Lou Gehrig's streak by over 500 games (and could have kept going if he didn't take himself out of the lineup). He more than doubled the third longest streak ever (1307 by the Yankees' Everett Scott).

Ripken's streak of 2632 games is more games than all but 33 players played in their entire careers. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig... They never even played in 2632 games.

Ripken's streak is one he will take to his grave.

The Case for Brett Favre:

Brett Favre played in 297 consecutive games, starting on September 27, 1992 and ending on December 13, 2010.

His streak is more than any other position player in NFL history (Jeff Feagles is at 352, but Jeff Feagles is a punter).

Oh, and Favre played the single most demanding position in professional sports.

Favre suffered so many injuries throughout his career that it's flat out ridiculous.

He originally failed his physical after he was traded from Atlanta to Green Bay after the 1991 season. He was diagnosed with hip disorder vascular necrosis, the same injury that forced the great Bo Jackson to retire from professional sports. Favre's doctor told him that he wouldn't play for four seasons. Favre ignored his doctor's advice and joined the Packers.

In 1992, Favre suffered a first-degree right shoulder separation and had to leave the game. When he saw Packers' backup and former starter Don Majkowski warming up on the sidelines, he said to himself that he better go back in or he'll never get his job back. He returned to the game.

In 1995, he suffered a swollen ankle against the Minnesota Vikings that was reportedly six times its normal size. He played the next week against the Chicago Bears and threw five touchdown passes.

In 2000, defensive tackle Warren Sapp fell on Favre's leg, knocking him out of the game. He was rumored to be out for several weeks but returned to lead the Packers to a victory against the Colts the next week.

In 2002, he suffered a sprained left knee so badly that he couldn't walk off the field. Initially thought to be a torn ACL, Favre's injury was discovered to be a sprained lateral collateral ligament. He played the next game wearing a knee brace (to be fair, it's worth noting that if not for the Packers' bye week, Favre's streak would have almost certainly ended).

In 2003, he broke the thumb on his throwing hand after it slammed into a St. Louis Rams' lineman's helmet. He played the next week, later stating it was the closest he ever came to missing a game.

Later in the season, still playing with the thumb injury, he played a game against the Oakland Raiders with the news that his father had just died. He threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns, one of the greatest single-game achievements in NFL history.

This season, the 41-year old played through two minor fractures to his left ankle. I could not believe it when I heard that Favre was actually playing, despite the excruciating injury that severely limited his movement.

I haven't even mentioned the life-threatening injury in a car accident during his college years that would have prevented most players from ever playing again. He was treated for a concussion, lacerations, and a cracked vertebrae. Oh, and he had 30 inches of his small intestines removed.

He returned eight weeks later to lead Southern Miss to an upset victory over Alabama in the first game of his senior year of college.

Favre has also played with a hip pointer. A sprained thumb. Tendonitis. A concussion. A pinched nerve in his arm. A deep thigh bruise. Back injuries. Hip problems. Groin injuries. Eight stitches to a laceration in his face.

Name the body part and Brett Favre has injured it during his career. And played through the pain.

Eight times he failed to finish a game with the Packers because of an injury. Every time he returned to the starting lineup the next week.

The goal of every single defensive player is to take the quarterback out of the game, especially a three-time Most Valuable Player, future Hall of Famer, and holder of many NFL passing records.

Teams almost achieved their goal many, many times, but every time Favre bounced back up, or dragged himself off the turf, or was carried off the turf.

And every time he returned. Every single time.

Until this season, when a sprained sternoclavicular joint in his right shoulder on a hit by the Bills' linebacker Arthur Moats knocked him out of the game.

After 92 times on the injury report, Favre's streak ended.

The Verdict:

NFL players are bigger and faster than ever now. The fact that players are even allowed to participate in the same contact sport with men weighing 150 pounds more than them is incredible.

Boxers don't fight guys not in their weight class. Wrestlers don't wrestle someone weighing 30 pounds more than them.

But in the NFL, a 222-pound quarterback can get creamed by a 335-pound defensive tackle, a 265-pound blitzing linebacker, or a 230-pound safety traveling full speed, and that's all just part of the game.

It's really incredible, when you think about it.

238 different quarterbacks in the National Football League have started during Favre's streak.

Favre played in 297 consecutive games, 321 including the playoffs. No other quarterback in history has even PLAYED in 250 games. Only one position player, Jerry Rice, has played more games (303).

Favre's streak is 20 percent higher than any quarterback's CAREER. It's almost the equivalent of the most games played by any position player in the NFL (kickers and punters excluded for obvious reasons).

Pete Rose played 3562 games in his career. For Ripken's streak to match Favre's in comparison, he would need to have played in almost 3500 games.

And no disrespect to Ripken, but no one is trying to seriously injure him in every play.

Yeah, he's had spikes come at him a few times. When is the last time a shortstop or second baseman has had to miss time because he was cleated?

Ripken could play a full game and field just one grounder and bat just four times.

Favre is throwing 20 to 30 passes, guaranteed. He's taking three to four hits on average, and every single one of them hurts.

Who do you think has a tougher time getting up in the morning, Cal Ripken Jr or Brett Favre?

Favre, no doubt. I would say Favre feels more soreness a month after the season ends than Ripken usually does during a baseball season.

Ripken's worst injury was a sprained knee suffered during a bench-clearing brawl in 1993.

I think Cal Ripken Jr's streak is one of the most incredible feats in the history of baseball.

But Brett Favre's streak is just about indescribable.

Even if it one day is broken by Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning, who is about six seasons away, Manning never ever had to deal with the abuse that Favre did.

Brett Favre is the single toughest professional athlete to ever live, and his streak will forever be his legacy.


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