FavreWatch: Chasing Jim Marshall

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Sunday will mark the first of two pretty significant milestones for Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre. By opening the Vikings’ game at Detroit, he’ll extend his streak of consecutive starts to 271 and break the NFL record held by former Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall. Favre

And if all goes well for Favre, he’ll pass Marshall on the league’s all-time list for consecutive games played later this season. (Note the distinction between games STARTED and games PLAYED.) The Vikings’ Dec. 6 game at Arizona would be Favre’s 283rd consecutive GAME. New York Giants punter Jeff Feagles is the only player ahead of Marshall with a mark of 337 consecutive games played and counting. (Punters don’t get credit for starts.)

Reflecting on that history Wednesday, Favre recalled an earlier milestone. In a 1999 game against Chicago, he broke Ron Jaworski's record for most consecutive starts by a quarterback.

“They stopped the game,” Favre said. “I was kind of like, it’s not that big of a deal. It is and it isn’t. But I feel like stopping the game every time now. I think I always knew how difficult it was to play. It’s the game of football. You can get hurt doing anything. But the game of football is physical. I don’t get hit every play like running backs and linemen, but I think about 16, 17 straight years. That’s a long time.”

Indeed, Favre hasn’t missed a start since taking over the Green Bay job on Sept. 27, 1992. Wednesday, he said the closest he has come to missing a game was after fracturing the thumb on his throwing hand in Week 7 of the 2003 season.

“It’s important because I know how hard it is to do,” Favre said. “... But it’s not important enough just to play just to keep the streak alive. That’s never been my intention.”

Perhaps not, but Favre is nevertheless entwined and invested in the streak. Part of his value and identity is showing up for work every day. Many moons ago, I covered the Baltimore Orioles when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games. There were regular calls for Ripken to end his streak after he broke the record, but Ripken considered his daily availability to be the ultimate individual contribution he could make in a team environment. I’m guessing Favre feels the same way.