297

One of the most infamous and impressive streaks in all of sports is finally over. The gray-bearded man made 297 consecutive starts (321 including playoffs) only to see it end on a cold Detroit night with four games left in the season. It’s been a long time.

September 27th, 1992. This is the date that Brett Lorenzo Favre made his very first NFL start against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Between the first start and the last, Favre has managed to throw for 71,775 yards, 507 touchdowns, and 334 interceptions. All NFL records. His list of records and accomplishments are so long I’m not going to take the time to list them here. The list is much longer than his…..Nevermind.

The streak has lasted almost two decades; 19 years. To put that in further perspective, I was 11 years old when Brett Favre made his very first NFL start. I’m now a week away from being 29. Think about that for a second and do your own calculation. How much has changed in your life over the last 19 years? Graduate from college, get married, have children, have grandchildren, etc. The only thing that hasn’t changed is that every Sunday from September to January, Brett Favre will be throwing a football.

Growing up, Favre was my favorite football player that wasn’t a Steeler. He always seemed like a guy that truly loved to play the game of football and he wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of being out on that field. Certainly not something like a little ankle sprain, or bruised throwing shoulder, or broken finger on the throwing hand. He was playing and that was that.

The sad thing about this whole episode, is that the streak has been marred by Favre himself. It’s hard to believe, but he has tainted his own legacy. Five years from now, when Brett Favre is being inducted into the Football Hall of Fame, we will be talking about the 3 consecutive MVP awards, the Super Bowl win, the incredible comebacks, gaudy statistics and yes, the streak. But we will also be talking about how he retired 5 times. The whole debacle with Green Bay and how he should have retired with the Packers. The disaster that was his New York Jets year. The game ending interception that helped send the New Orleans Saints to their very first Super Bowl and unfortunately, his penis and Jenn Sterger.

The man has gone from a football legend to a punchline. However, maybe we should let all  of his transgressions go and just look at the football player. The guy who just couldn’t let go of what he loves to do the most. He is after all, human. He is a football player.  If we are being honest with ourselves, we have all been there. A relationship that we couldn’t end, even though we knew it wasn’t working. A pet who was old or sick that needed to be put down. A job that offered us stability but wasn’t very satisfying. Sometimes it’s just hard to let go. Uncertainty can cause panic in many people.

297 consecutive NFL starts in and of itself is absolutely amazing. To be able to play through the pain and stay sharp mentally for 16 games each season is incredible. How many of us would be able to do what Brett Favre did? How many of us could take the physical beatings that Favre has endured over the course of the last 19 years? I think the answer to that question is easy. None of us would. Favre was built differently and the numbers speak for themselves. Only six  quarterbacks in NFL history have been able to start in 100 consecutive games. Of those, only two have made it to 200.

So as of today, we will be watching Peyton Manning to see if he can hold on and get to 298.

Brett Favre will most likely never take another snap in the NFL, although I’m sure no one will really be surprised if once again three Minnesota players fly down to Mississippi and convince him to come back. I know most people are tired of hearing the Brett Favre drama stories every week and will be glad when the networks finally move on. However, forget for a minute all the drama and just remember that you got to watch one of the greatest and toughest quarterbacks ever to play the game of football. Remember the times on the field when he made you say, WOW, how did he do that! Remember the times when he threw a touchdown pass and ran down the field like a little kid and carried his receiver half way off the field.

We have become a little jaded about professional athletes over the last couple of years. The money, the me first attitudes, the arrests and controversies. Certainly Favre falls into each of those categories, but you can’t deny what a great football player he was and how fun it was to watch him. The fact that you never knew whether he was going to win the game with a touchdown or interception. One thing about Brett, he kept you on the edge of your seat.

So 19 years and 297 games later, here we are. The end of an era. One of the most impressive records in professional sports is finally at its end and it looks as if Favre is finally going to ride off into the sunset. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I got to witness it. It makes me happy that 20 years from now I’ll be telling my children about what it was like being a football fan and watching Favre play. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsP3rZWsxhI

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