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Too quiet an ending to Favre's streak

About the Author

Hub Arkush
Publisher and editor

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Posted Dec. 21, 2010 @ 1:09 p.m. ET
By Hub Arkush

This isn't about Brett Favre the diva, or the Brett Favre who can't ever seem to make up his mind about when it's time to hang up his pads for good, nor is it about Brett Favre the slug who has been caught trying to cheat on his wife, possibly in the most inappropriate of ways. This is about the greatest record in all of sports and how bittersweet it was that it couldn't have ended differently.

That Favre's stature on the field has convinced him it's OK for him to have a special set of rules when it comes to practicing, going to training camp and making and keeping commitments to his teammates has never bothered me as much as it has others. I think it's wrong, and I think a bit less of Favre for taking advantage of it, but that the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings have been so willing to enable him has just never aroused the passion in me that it has in most.

As to what we can only call the "Jenn Sterger story," Favre has admitted leaving inappropriate voicemails from a married man, but can someone explain to me how that is anyone's business but his, his wife Deanna's, the rest of their family's and Sterger's? I don't have a clue why the NFL hasn't taken a position on the whole sordid mess as of my penning of this column after it conducted a lengthy investigation. But one possibility is that they can't prove Favre is lying when he says he didn't send her the perverted pictures of genitalia she allegedly received — which, if he did, I believe absolutely demands harsh punishment from the league — and the phone calls are a matter to be judged by his wife and his conscience, and one in which the league really has no standing. Unless there is proof without a doubt that he sent the woman pornographic images, it's really none of my business or yours, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the streak.

As I said at the top, I believe Favre's streak of starting 297 consecutive regular-season NFL games (321, if you include playoff appearances) is the greatest record in all of professional sports. In every one of those games, on every single offensive play, the goal of the 11 players on the other side of the ball was to knock him out of the game. Consider that this year alone in the NFL more than half of the teams have had to start multiple QBs; Favre, meanwhile, has done it consistently since 1992 while setting every significant passing record in the books. And think about the fact that the streak of the guy who replaced him — Tarvaris Jackson — lasted one game.

Peyton Manning just started his 206th consecutive game but will need 5½ more seasons without missing a game, or about five full seasons if the league switches to an 18-game schedule, to match Favre's record. Manning's streak is impressive in its own right, but it's more about his ability to avoid contact than it is his ability to overcome the hellacious beating Favre took over the years as he initiated some of the worst of it. What Favre has accomplished — on the football field — is the stuff that legends are made of.

I was there for the end, working as the sideline reporter for Westwood One's national radio broadcast of the game in a half-empty stadium and a city (Detroit) both relatively foreign to Favre, with no live television of the historic moment available to anyone outside of the Minnesota and New York markets, fewer than half  the usual TV cameras and a near-deserted press box and sidelines. Favre walked by me during warm-ups in a stocking cap as his teammates ran out of the tunnel to be introduced to the strange brew of fans Ford Field held that night. As it became clear the streak was over, I was actually saddened that something so incredible would end with so little acknowledgment because an act of God kept it from concluding where it should have — in front of a home crowd in Minneapolis and the bright lights of the entire sporting world. It's been nagging at me ever since that it all passed in such a small and nearly invisible way when it should have been so much bigger.

I keep thinking: Maybe Deanna isn't the only one Brett had to answer to, after all?

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