Brett Favre's consecutive games streak ends

The first pass quarterback Brett Favre completed in his career was to himself.  The last may have been his 8-yard, fourth quarter completion to Greg Lewis two weeks ago in Washington. 

One of the greatest accomplishments, records, feats and, of course streaks in North American pro sports history ended Monday in Detroit as Brett Favre was inactive for the Vikings relocated/rescheduled game against the New York Giants.  Tarvaris Jackson made his 20th start at QB for the Purple and was brutal amidst a host of lesser personnel as the Vikings were eliminated for the playoffs in an ugly, 21-3 loss.

On his first pass attempt in the Vikings eventual 38-14 win over Buffalo on December 5th, Favre suffered a sprained sternoclavicular joint in his throwing shoulder and did not return to the field of play.

"Seems like I been hurt a lot worse," Favre said post-game Monday. "I can't believe something like this hasn't happened before." 

The QB spent a wealth of the game ambling about the sullen Vikings' borrowed home sideline, his right hand a shade akin to his team's purple uniforms.

"I won't play again if I can't feel my hand," Favre added. "I think it would be foolish to even consider playing if you don't have total feeling in five fingers."

Favre had started an NFL-record 297 consecutive regular-season games (321 including playoffs), a streak that began when he took over for an injured Don Majkowski and started for the Green Bay Packers in Week 4 of the 1992 NFL season.  From that week until present day, 238 different quarterbacks have started an NFL game.  Last season, he broke the league record of 270 consecutive starts, held by Purple luminary Jim Marshall.

It's widely believed that Favre will truly hang up his cleats and soon retire after backup Jackson (or perhaps Joe Webb) serves behind center for the remainder of this circus of a 2010 campaign.

"I don't want to say I'm shocked by the events of today," Favre contiuned in the post-game presser. "I guess in some way I expected it ... but I have no idea. It's unfortunate we're out of this playoff race. I'll just see how I feel this week and go from there."

Favre's toughness is the stuff of limping legend, and during the past 19 seasons (he attempted his four passes as a rookie in Atlanta), the 41-year-old grandfather has played through a bevy of injuries across all reaches of his battered body.  The 297 starts serve among a host of league records for the 3-time MVP who's also the NFL's all-time leader in: touchdowns (507), pass completions (6,295), passing yards (71,775) and, yes, interceptions (335).  Favre has also been sacked more than any other quarterback, suffering 524 such takedowns in his 20-year career. 

Yet the starts streak stands above all other records, and despite an off-field life that has polarized him among fans and a measured 2010 that evidenced seemingly every snap of his advanced NFL years -- there is no question that Brett Favre is the toughest man to ever play the toughest position in the toughest of all sports.

Among the few comparable records in all of pro sport is the 2,632 consecutive baseball games played by Cal Ripken, Jr., who surpassed Lou Gehrig's long-standing record of 2,130 straight games in 1998.  Yet while Ripken's will surely never be surpassed, Favre's is actually in some jeopardy.  Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning has now started 205 consecutive regular-season games (223 including playoffs), the former mark serving as the longest streak to begin a career. On Monday, Ripken said through a spokesman:

"Brett has had an incredible career and his consecutive games streak is remarkable.  As a football fan I cannot fathom his accomplishment and I appreciate his dedication to and passion for the game. He is a true gamer and has provided us all with a lot of wonderful memories."

While leading the Vikings to the brink of the Super Bowl last season, Favre enjoyed one of the finest campaigns of his eventual Hall of Fame career.  Taking the Purple to just their second 12-win season since 1975, the QB posted career-bests in passer rating (107.2) and completion percentage (68.4) while tossing the fewest picks (7) of his storied career.

Yet those numbers wouldn't translate to this year, as Favre is currently tied for the league lead  in picks (18) and owns the NFL's 29th "best" passer rating at a mere 69.6.

After he was talked back into returning to Minnesota for a second season, Favre quickly evidenced the immobile effects of the bum left ankle that he had surgically repaired in the offseason.  The Vikings lost three of their first four games, setting the twisted tenor for a season that has been a few clowns short of a legit circus.  For a 2010 that began with great hope, the Vikings have seen Randy Moss come-and-go, fired Brad Childress, watched their stadium roof literally collapse and now seen Favre's streak end. 

For the first time since George H.W. Bush was President, Brett Favre watched the start of a game from the sideline on Monday.  And whatever many may think of him, he did so with honor, appearing every bit as uncomfortable as he should have, pacing in a hat instead of helmet.

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