Question of the day: Which consecutive-game streak was more impressive, Brett Favre’s or Cal Ripken’s?
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Writers from around Tribune Co. will weigh in on the topic. Please check back throughout the day, vote in the poll and feel free to leave a response of your own.
[Updated at 10:12 a.m.:
Dom Amore, Hartford Courant
This is one debate in which there is no shame in finishing second. When it comes to iron men, and streaks that signify the phrase, how could one go wrong choosing either Brett Favre’s streak of games started at quarterback or Cal Ripken’s streak of games played?
But we have to pick one, and for sheer toughness I have to go with the NFL quarterback.
To play 162 baseball games over roughly 180 days is very difficult, and few players do it today, even for one season. It’s grueling, and even if one is lucky enough to avoid injuries, the fatigue is a formidable obstacle. It’s also unnecessary for a baseball player to play every game, the primary reason it’s not done much these days.
The NFL quarterback is in a different iron man’s league. He is playing in a violent contact sport and is generally much smaller than most of the 11 players assigned to clobber him on every play. While the NFL is about brute force, the quarterback position is like a baseball pitcher -- every inch of his body, right down to his fingertips -- especially his finger tips -- is needed to perform. Then there is pressure.
The quarterback position is relied upon like no other in any sport; any time a top QB misses a start, it is likely to cost his team the game, and a game is one of 16, not one of 162.
So for Brett Favre to answer the call for 297 consecutive games should be considered the most impressive feat of its kind in sports.]
[Updated at 11:11 a.m.
Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times
As much as I respect baseball players for grinding out the 162-game schedule, for playing every day despite all the bumps and bruises and muscle strains and tears and sore elbows and day games after night games and seemingly endless air travel, I’m going to have to go with Favre because of the sheer violence of his sport.
What Ripken did was incredible, and I believe his record will never be broken; I’d be surprised if anyone came within 1,000 games of it. But as grueling as baseball is, Ripken didn’t have vicious, quarterback-hungry, 300-pound linemen breathing down his neck and wanting to crush him every time he made a throw to first base.
To have survived the brutal contact of the NFL and to have started every game for some 18 years is truly astonishing. Plus, in baseball, and not that Ripken did this often, you can essentially take a day off and extend a consecutive-games streak with a late-inning pinch-hit appearance or an inning in the field.
One final thought: As long as were on the subject, let’s not forget the remarkable streak of former NHL goaltender Glenn Hall, who played 502 consecutive games for the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings ... without a mask. I’m pretty sure Favre wore a helmet for all of his games, so Hall belongs in the conversation too.]
[Updated at 12:05 p.m.:
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
Unless I missed Cal Ripken fielding some grounders with the opposing batter running at him, there’s no comparison between his consecutive-game streak and the one Brett Favre just posted. Ripken’s is longer. Favre’s is stronger.
Football is a brutal sport, with large men trying to separate Favre from his senses on every snap. Baseball is a walk in the park by comparison. Granted, Ripken’s durability is impressive given the number of bumps and bruises that can happen over the course of 162 games. But how often do concussions happen in baseball? In football, they can happen on every play.
They also have rainouts in baseball. Favre landed on Lambeau Field’s ‘frozen tundra’ so often, there might be an honorary body chalk outline of him there. It doesn’t take a Lambeau Leap to say that Favre’s feat is tougher. It just takes common sense.]
[Updated at 12:34 p.m.:
Kevin Van Valkenburg, Baltimore Sun
Cal Ripken was a statesman. For a lot of fans, he represented working-class dignity and humility. Intense, noble and proud are the words that come to mind when you heard Ripken’s name, even today. If his career had a soundtrack, it would be Bruce Springsteen.
Brett Favre was an outlaw. He didn’t care for rules or discipline, and when he was young, it was endearing. What he wanted most of all was to have fun and soak up the applause. If his career had a soundtrack, it would be Waylon Jennings.
As much as we admire Ripken’s dignity and appreciate that he didn’t sully his legacy, I believe Favre’s streak of consecutive starts is the greater accomplishment. Ripken’s streak was a daily grind, but Favre’s streak was a weekly war between pain and his body. Favre got up time and time again after taking hits that would have broken lesser men, and his streak didn’t end until (what we assume will be) his final year in the NFL.
Both streaks took on a life of their own. Both required a healthy dose of ego. Ripken ended his streak with grace, on his own terms, and Favre did not. Favre, in general, did not handle the end of his career well. But Favre’s accomplishment was the more impressive.]
Left photo: Brett Favre. Credit: Gregory Shamus / AFP/Getty Images
Right photo: Cal Ripken Jr. Credit: Mike Theiler / AFP/Getty Images