So the streak ends at 297, huh? Big number, but the most amazing streak in NFL history indisputably still belongs to another man. Another Minnesota Viking, in fact.
Consecutive games played streaks are funny things, requiring the perfect storm of talent, coaching decisions, stamina and just plain luck. But they're not all created equal. Cal Ripken played in 2,632 straight games. That number would be unthinkable in football, because it's football. If Ripken properly stretched his hamstrings, his only opportunities for injury were the odd play at the plate or a runner trying to take him out while he turned the double play. That's baseball: guys tend not to run into each other.
But football, football is all about large men trying to crush each other. That is, unless you're a kicker. Rarely touched, that's the reason why punter Jeff Feagles had a consecutive games streak of 352; why kicker Morten Andersen had one of 248; and why long snapper Ethan Albright's streak of 224 only ended why no one signed him this past offseason.
And let's face it: quarterbacks in the 21st century are a lot closer to kickers in the punishment they take than they are to linemen, or even skill positions or the secondary. Rules have been changed to protect them. Flags are thrown on those hitting them at the slightest provocation. Between sacks, QB sneaks and making the occasional tackle after an interception, Brett Favre probably received full contact on 5 plays a game.
That he was able to survive those, and all the nagging injuries that come with playing every week is amazing, sure. But nowhere near as amazing as Jim Marshall, who started 270 consecutive games (and played in 282 straight). Marshall was a defensive end, meaning every single defensive play — 60 or 70 per game these days — his job was to hit as hard as he could, and hit a guy trying to hit him as hard as he could. There's a reason the record streak for a nose tackle is only 107 games, and it sure as hell isn't that Fred Smerlas wasn't a good player.
To go 282 games like that? That's more deserving of the glitter and soft-focus paeans and graphics and blowjobs heaped upon Favre by the likes of FOX and ESPN, which may not have existed when Marshall played his streak, but probably wouldn't have cared anyway.
Related: A Roundtable Of Iron Men [Midwest Sports Fans]