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Originally published December 13, 2010 at 8:35 PM | Page modified December 13, 2010 at 10:42 PM

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Brett Favre's consecutive starts streak ends

A stretch of 297 straight starts, 321 counting playoffs, ended Monday because of a shoulder injury that not even the indestructible quarterback could overcome. Favre was inactive for Minnesota's 21-3 loss to the New York Giants.

The Associated Press

Every Sunday he was there, starting on Sept. 27, 1992. Freezing rain, sleet, blowing snow. Nothing stopped Brett Favre.

Through separated shoulders, concussions and sprained knees, broken thumbs, torn biceps and twisted ankles, he played.

Until now.

A stretch of 297 straight starts, 321 counting playoffs, ended Monday because of a shoulder injury that not even the indestructible quarterback could overcome. Favre was inactive for Minnesota's 21-3 loss to the New York Giants.

For 18-plus seasons, with the game and the position he plays getting more dangerous by the year, Favre stayed out there. Injuries couldn't slow him; neither could a broken heart. He played one game in 2003 after the sudden death of his father and again the next year after his wife, Deanna, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The toll it has taken has shown, and not only through the growing palette of gray beneath the 41-year-old quarterback's helmet.

Passes that once found the hands of receivers were getting picked off more and more. Seasons that ended at the Super Bowl were coming up an agonizing game or two short — sometimes ending, literally, with an interception, as they did last season in Minnesota and in 2008 with Green Bay, both in the NFC Championship Game.

Meanwhile, a body that could bounce back from almost any beating was taking longer to shake off the blows. This week, he couldn't heal in time to beat the clock.

It's uncertain if Favre will play again in this, his third comeback season from a brief retirement. Regardless, the man known as much for his skill as his stubbornness, will always have his special place in history.

He'll be right alongside Cal Ripken, perhaps the ultimate modern-day sports ironman, who played 2,632 straight games for the Baltimore Orioles, a record that spanned 17 seasons — one fewer than Favre's. But Ripken, of course, never had a 270-pound opponent stick a helmet in his ribs from the blind side.

"Brett has had an incredible career and his consecutive games streak is remarkable," Ripken said in a statement through his spokesman, John Maroon. "As a football fan, I cannot fathom his accomplishment and I appreciate his dedication to and passion for the game."

A.C. Green played in a record 1,192 straight NBA games with four teams over 15 seasons. Doug Jarvis played in 964 straight hockey games for the Canadiens, Capitals and Whalers.

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"There's no comparison in my mind," said Titans quarterback Kerry Collins, a 16-year veteran himself. "Just the physical abuse a starting quarterback takes over the course of a season and the course of a career is just beyond comprehension."

Peyton Manning holds the second-longest streak at 205 games. He would need to keep it going for another 5 ½ years to surpass Favre.

"It's beyond reason. It's ridiculous," said Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who backed up Favre in Green Bay years ago.

"He's gotten lucky a little bit too, but he's just the toughest guy in the world."

Since Favre's streak began, 239 other quarterbacks have started in the NFL, according to STATS LLC. That's an average of 7.4 per team — if you count all 32 teams; back when Favre's streak started, there were just 28.

It's a record that Favre cherishes.

"I far exceeded my goals," he said last week. "I don't know if any player comes in and says, 'Hey, I have a goal of playing 300 straight games.'

"To have done that with playoffs (321 games), I don't know how many consecutive starts, it's a lot, and had it ended several weeks before or last year, it is still quite an accomplishment."

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