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Why Does Brett Favre's Streak Mean Less Than Cal Ripken's?

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Rock Mamola

Producer/Host on WSCR 670AM The Score.

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History was made in Detroit yesterday and it had nothing to do with any of the teams that call that city home.  For the first time since September 20, 1992 Brett Favre did not start a NFL game for a NFL team. 6,659 days and 297 regular season games (321 counting the 24 games he played in the postseason) in between Brett Favre replacing Don Majkowski leading the Green Bay Packers to a comeback win over the Cincinnati Bengals to yesterday as Favre watched his Minnesota Vikings officially become eliminated from the playoffs.  238 other quarterbacks have started a NFL game since Favre's streak started and three different Presidents have been elected (Clinton and Bush twice each).  To put it in proper perspective, Favre's streak started when I was a 11 year old kid picking my nose in fifth grade and ends with me as a 29 year old father/husband still picking my nose.
 
When you throw out the numbers about the length of Favre's streak, it is simply amazing that one man lasted so long in such a violent sport.  Sure Favre was not a running back or a linebacker, and the game has changed where the quarterback seems to be more protected by the league each year.  Still the grind of what a football player goes through, to tell a story of one man playing a game through injury for 18 years and have the success he had is legendary.  There is no doubt that Brett Favre will be in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame, and he could be considered the greatest quarterback ever to play the game of football.
 
So how come we do not celebrate this historic moment in our country's most popular game as much as we did for another "Iron Man"?
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Cal Ripken Jr. (nicknamed "The Iron Man") played 2,632 consecutive baseball games spanning from May 30, 1982 till September 20, 1998.  Ending what (at the time) was sports' most impressive example of hard work and determination, Ripken was celebrated as a American hero for his perseverance and dedication to his craft.  Standing ovations from the hometown fans and even the rival New York Yankees, national TV and newspaper coverage.  Ripken taking his first day off from his job in 16 years was national news and the talk of the country.  A man that came to work everyday, did his job to the best of his ability and never made excuses for himself.  David Cone (then of the Yankees) said of the end of Ripken's Streak:

"A lot of people who go to work every day can identify with Cal," Yankees pitcher David Cone said. "The streak supersedes baseball."
 
Then what of the end of an era in the NFL?   
 
Hello?
 
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What Brett Favre has brought football fans for the past 18 years is a little confounding.  With every record he has shattered he has annoyed more with his soap opera retirements.  With his best season occurring last season at the age of 40, people were not sure to appreciate the entertainment or revel in how Favre betrayed the team he will always be associated to in Green Bay.  No matter if you loved the man's career or hated the constant back and forth on Favre retiring, you always watched.  In fact every time Favre took the field, the eyes of our nation seemed to fixate on a little town in Wisconsin, New York City or the Purple People Eaters up in Minnesota.  We loved to watch Favre play football no matter what part of the country you hail from.
 
However I find it interesting that while he may have the records, the Super Bowl title, the greatest streak of consecutive games in NFL history.....why do we not celebrate Favre's legacy like we did with Ripken's?
 
Comparing two different sports is extremely tough to do, hence why I am not writing about which streak is more impressive to you.  What I find compelling though is the fact that Favre's streak ending is a footnote among the sports world today where as Ripken's was so much more glorified and honored.  I truly believe that if Ripken's streak were to end today, every other story in the sports world would take a back seat in respect to history being made on the baseball diamond.  But with Favre's streak ending last night in Detroit where 90% of the country could not watch the event, Cliff Lee shunning the Yankees money is bigger news to most sports fans.
 
Did I miss the memo?  I know baseball hot stove is fun and exciting to talk about, but the NFL is the man among boys in this country right?  And Favre is the face of that league....right?
 
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Are we as sports fans so sick and tired of the whole Brett Favre experience that we just figured the streak would end at some point?  I know Favre has buried the whole back and forth retirement talk into the collective brains of sports fans for the past couple of years, and I will agree to some degree that it gets annoying and makes you want to push the button.  Say what you want about the man personally, but as a football player he was the best of the best.  The fact that the country is not talking about what this man just accomplished because of his own self-created overkill of himself is just shameful.   
 
While sports fans can complain about the money these men make and the irresponsibility of some, all Favre did is exactly what Ripken did....go to work.  The most common association the common man can have to any athlete is the ability to go to their job day after day no matter what.  There is nothing more respectable of a man than the ability to go to work each day and do the very best job you can.  Favre may not have played 2,000+ games or 162 games per season, but he plays the most violent sport in this country outside NHL hockey.  He has the same (if not many many more) bumps and bruises than the average athlete over a career.  No matter the pain or pressure to perform, he did what every common man would have done in his situation.....go back to work.   
 
Did it end on the terms Favre would have liked, surely not.  However the one thing that Favre defied his entire career finally caught up with him.  It is a shame that as popular as the NFL is in this country with the most watched athlete in the sports history that the end of Brett Favre's streak is not as celebrated as it should be.   
 
Brett Favre embodied everything everything fans want in an athlete.  He performed, loved the game, and never took a vacation.
 
As legendary as Favre's streak is, it is a shame it is not being treated as such.
 
-RoCk
 
Rock Mamola is the Associate Producer of The Mully And Hanley Morning Show and co-host of The Joe O And Rock Show on WSCR 670AM The Score
 
You can follow The Mully And Hanley Morning Show at twitter.com/mullyhanley
 
You can follow The Joe O And Rock Show at twitter.com/joeoandrockshow


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8 Comments

patrick said:

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i don't think it is a case meaning less, i think it has more to do with a couple of things. ripken played 162 games straight for about 16 years. while football may be more violent, favre gets at least a few days to lick his wounds when ripken maybe got 1 or 2 days. also, i think as you mentioned a lot of people are tired of favre. classic case of overstaying your welcome. he is arguably one of the best ever, but the faux retirements, media over exposure (which is not really his fault) then the whole sexting scandal, i believe fans found an enemy in him. it is left to us as individuals to appreciate what he has done for the sport. well us and the four letter network....

Rock Mamola said:

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The risk of injury in the NFL is so much higher than it is in baseball. Again, don't want to turn this into what is the more impressive streak.

Just because he may be an "enemy" to some doesn't mean we should ignore his accomplishments.

I just find the differences between the two (as far as celebrating the moment) interesting.

It's not fair to favre in my opinion he gets lackluster coverage of what could be considered the greatest record in NFL history.

-RoCk

patrick said:

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i do not intend on making the "which record is more impressive" argument either. however, i think it is part of the conversation. i don't believe it is being ignored, i just think people enjoy the story of cliff lee because it is a good story. also, many are just glad to see favre go away. it may not be fair but thus is sports fandom.

iowagyrl said:

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All good points Patrick! We were unable to IGNORE Favre or his streak. We were reminded it ad nauseum! Favre became the punchline(of his own making by the way)of everyone's jokes! I don't feel sorry for him. I don't care if anyone recognizes his streak since he joined Greg Oden's club for morons who text pics of their junk to women!

iowagyrl said:

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FYI....life isn't fair! One of the 1st lessons I taught my children. Usually you get out of life what you put in! Favre needs to fade into oblivion & hope that the Hall of Fame voters have short memories! And if that record really meant anything to Favre, he would have made different and better decisions in his personal life! He knew exactly what he was doing and he did it anyway! NEXT!!

iowagyrl said:

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Come on John! So many valid reasons why!!! Favre was sexting one or more women when his wife was being treated for breast cancer, he screwed up the Jets postseason, faked injuries, cost 1 coach his job, he abused narcotics, played mind games about his retirement just to name a few reasons!!! Cal Ripken is head & shoulders above Favre in all aspects! Favre's career unfortunately was diminished by all of the above & more!

iowagyrl said:

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Favre is an idiot & Cal Ripken is not! Pretty simple!

iowagyrl said:

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Patrick's point is also important...the sheer number of games that Ripken played cannot be compared with the number of NFL games played by Favre.

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