FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- D'Brickashaw Ferguson is the honor student who never gets ill, never feigns sickness as an excuse to skip school, and receives a perfect-attendance award at the end-of-the-year assembly.
He's the factory worker who shows up every day at 6 a.m., hard hat on head and lunch pail in tow, and ends up with his picture on an "Employee of the Month" plaque in the cafeteria.
He never misses anything.
Every day, every play, he's there playing left tackle for the New York Jets. He is starting his 10th season, and it's time to start recognizing what a marvel he is. In a sports society in which athletes get hurt in their own locker rooms (Geno Smith) and self-absorbed stars make a fuss about not wanting to jeopardize their health (yes, you, Mets star Matt Harvey), Ferguson is a throwback.
He has played every game in his career -- 144 out of 144 in the regular season -- but that's only half the story. The man hasn't missed a practice due to injury in nine years, and not once has he appeared on the official injury report, according to the Jets' training staff.
Incredibly, Ferguson hasn't missed a play. Oh, wait -- there was that one time in 2008, but that doesn't really count.
On the final play of the season -- the final play of the Eric Mangini coaching era, as it turned out -- the Jets tried a funky, desperation play from their own 4-yard line. They replaced the offensive linemen with their fastest players and inserted the athletic Brad Smith at quarterback for Brett Favre. The left tackle was Darrelle Revis (yes, really), which could be the answer to a trivia question one day.
They tried the lateral thing, but the Stanford band never showed up. That was the only time Ferguson has watched a play from the sideline. Think about it: no injuries, no wardrobe malfunctions, no rest in blowouts. He has played 9,243 snaps in a distinguished career that includes three Pro Bowl appearances.
This Brick is a rock.
"Nine thousand snaps?" Revis asked incredulously when informed of Ferguson's streak. "That's worth an ironman award. Actually, he needs nine ironman awards for that."
It's hard to do anything 9,000 times; it's harder to do so while maintaining a high level of efficiency. For Ferguson, whose work space sometimes resembles a rush-hour sidewalk in Times Square, this means contact on almost every play. We're talking about 9,000 collisions of varying degrees of impact.
Yet he has had no injuries -- not even a sprained ankle.
This kind of stuff doesn't happen too often. Since 2007, when ESPN Stats & Information started tracking game-participation data, only two players have missed one or zero snaps: Ferguson and Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, whom the Jets will face Sunday in the season opener.
"It's definitely amazing," Jets guard Willie Colon said of Ferguson. "Here I am, I've missed years on IR from being in the trenches, and this guy has powered and pushed through everything.
"Brick does a good job of taking care of himself. He doesn't live a New York lifestyle, and I think that leads to how healthy he is and how he's been able to stack seasons."
Ferguson grew up in New York -- Freeport, Long Island, to be exact -- but he doesn't have a Broadway swagger or a zest for nightlife. His quotes never appear in headlines, and you won't see his picture on Page Six. He's painfully modest.
You ask him about his streak, and he shrugs. He doesn't see it as a big deal; he's just a guy doing his job.
"I count it as a blessing, and I don't take it for granted, but . . . " Ferguson said with a pause.
"I just try to go," he continued. "I don't worry too much about why it is. It's like, 'Hey, let me do what I need to do as far as what my job requires of me.' That's to defend the quarterback, and that's to make holes and be productive."
Ferguson insisted he never thinks about the streak. He said he has never asked a coach to leave him in a blowout to preserve his streak. Likewise, he has never forced himself to play with a debilitating injury.
Sorry, no Favre or Willis Reed stories here. There haven't been any miraculous, pregame rallies in the trainer's room.
"I haven't had any major bang-ups," Ferguson said. "I mean, I've been banged-up, but not to the point where I couldn't play. Stuff has happened, [but] nothing ever that bad."
The NFL is a blood sport with a 100 percent injury rate.
Well, make it 99.999 percent, thanks to Ferguson.
"I think there's an element of good fortune sprinkled in there, but Brick is one of the hardest-working guys we have, and it shows by [his streak]," said center Nick Mangold, Ferguson's linemate since 2006.
Ferguson has outlasted four offensive line coaches. The new man is Steve Marshall, who coached Thomas as a rookie in 2007. Marshall called Ferguson "one of the top left tackles of this generation," the loftiest of praise.
Marshall said Ferguson is a "very intuitive" player who takes notes and asks a lot of questions in meetings -- there's the honor student analogy again. Marshall is struck by Ferguson's even-keeled personality and how his demeanor never changes.
As for the streak: "It's phenomenal," Marshall said.
"I'm really kind of nervous talking about it," he said. "I don't want to jinx it."
The crazy thing is, there were whispers before the 2006 draft about Ferguson's passion for football. He's a graduate from a prestigious academic school, the University of Virginia, fueling the perception he didn't have the tough-guy mentality to survive a career in the trenches.
Former player Jerome Henderson, then the Jets' director of player development, interviewed Ferguson before the draft and tried to get inside his head. Obviously, the Jets were satisfied with the results because they chose him fourth overall and anointed him the starting left tackle on draft day.
It seems foolish now, questioning the heart of a man who would go on to have a freakishly durable career. He hasn't missed a day on the job in nine years. When this was suggested to Ferguson, he smiled.
"Interesting," he said. Maybe that's his way of saying: "You're damn right it's foolish."
Ferguson's modesty prevented a self-congratulatory response.
For a franchise with an existence based largely on upheaval, from changing coaches to quarterbacks, Ferguson is a rare constant. He is always there protecting the blind side. He'll be there Sunday, No. 60 starting Season 10, Game 145, Snap 9,244.
"I've got to keep going," the honor student and factory worker said, "and be that guy for this team."