200 next on Favre's iron-man streak
By Todd McMahon
One start a Hall of Fame legacy is not made. Yet, Brett Favre continues to mull all of these years later what might have been had he not gotten through that anxiety-filled first one.
Head coach Mike Holmgren tabbed Favre as the Green Bay Packers' starting quarterback Sept. 27, 1992, against Pittsburgh at Lambeau Field.
Seven days earlier, the 22-year-old Favre was summoned to relieve an injured Don Majkowski in the first quarter of a home game against Cincinnati. Favre rallied the Packers to a 24-23 victory, throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kitrick Taylor in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.
With Majkowski still on the mend with a bum ankle, Favre was given his first shot in his second year as a pro to direct an offense from the outset of a game. The encore proved to be a smashing success, as Favre was an economical 14-of-19 passing for 210 yards and two touchdowns without an interception in a 17-3 win over the Steelers. The highlight was a 76-yard scoring strike to Sterling Sharpe.
"I remember being extremely nervous and having a lot of uncertainty from my standpoint of, 'OK, what will happen? How will I play? Will we win this game? Things that really I couldn't control," Favre recalled this past week. "As I look back now, with so much experience under my belt, I think those were normal feelings. Now, I know what I can control and what I can't. That's as far as I go with it."
Where the perpetually under-control Favre doesn't limit himself is how far he has been able to take what is shaping up to be one of the most hallowed achievements in sports, not just football.
Having come a long way from that early-fall afternoon 12 years ago, Favre is set to make his 200th consecutive regular-season start Monday night, when the Packers host the St. Louis Rams.
"Of all the awards that he's won and all the accomplishments that he's attained, I don't know if there's one he would be more proud of than the consecutive starts," said Mike Sherman, the Packers' head coach since 2000. "That embodies his character, and I think that's really what he's all about. I've never taken him for granted. I appreciate every day he's the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers."
Technically, Favre reached the 200-start milestone for which he's garnered a lot of attention this week Nov. 16 last season at Tampa Bay. Counting playoff games, Favre has started 218 straight contests entering the game Monday.
The league, however, doesn't combine regular-season and postseason time of service for statistical purposes.
So, Favre will need to take the first snap in the Packers' initial series on offense against the Rams to become just the seventh player in recorded NFL history to start at least 200 consecutive games.
Former Minnesota defensive end Jim Marshall is the all-time leader with 270. Others on the esteemed list are Minnesota center Mick Tingelhoff (240), Houston/Tennessee offensive lineman Bruce Matthews (229), Oakland center Jim Otto (210), Oakland guard Gene Upshaw (207) and Minnesota/Tampa Bay guard Randall McDaniel (202).
Favre is the only active player among that group.
He's the runaway leader in the starting-streak category for quarterbacks. Former Philadelphia signal-caller Ron Jaworski remains No. 2 on the all-time list with 116 straight starts.
Indianapolis' Peyton Manning on Sunday can tie Buffalo's Joe Ferguson for third place at 107. Favre also lays claim to the No. 1 active starting streak for all positions. Kansas City offensive lineman Will Shields enters the weekend with 185.
"The fact that I'm still here and playing, I think, speaks for itself," Favre said. "I'm fortunate in a lot of ways to be able to do this. And, to overcome injuries, adversity and still play at a high enough level that the Packers still want me around ... it does mean something."
During Favre's amazing run of invincibility during the regular season, the Packers have compiled a 131-68 record; he has thrown touchdown passes to 36 different receivers; he has played in 38 stadiums; 11 of his former backups have since started for other teams; and the other 31 teams have combined to roll through 179 starting quarterbacks, the latest being Dallas' Drew Henson on Thursday.
"You have to give him credit," Rivera said. "Busted knee, he's going. Busted hand, he's going. Broken thumb, he's going."
All thanks to unforgettable start No. 1.
"Each game that I start is an accomplishment," the now-35-year-old Favre acknowledged. "Two hundred is, in some ways, a lot different than 100 or the first start. But, I wouldn't say it ranks any higher than my first start."
MONDAY NIGHT REGULARS
The Packers and St. Louis share a distinction this season of playing on "Monday Night Football" a maximum three times.
For the Packers, the game will be their third and last on ABC's showcase game in 2004. They won 24-14 at Carolina in the season opener Sept. 13, then were hammered 48-27 by Tennessee on Oct. 11 at Lambeau Field.
The Rams will be playing their second "MNF" game. They beat Tampa Bay 28-21 on Oct. 18 in St. Louis. Their final Monday night game also will be at home, Dec. 27 against Philadelphia.
The Packers are 23-20-1 on "MNF" since the program's inception in 1970. Their record with Sherman as coach since 2000 is 8-3.
The Rams are 25-24 when playing on Monday night. They have won their last five outings, dating to the 2002 season, and are 8-4 with Mike Martz as head coach since 2000. This will be the first "MNF" meeting involving the teams.
BRIGHT LIGHTS STAY ON THEM
Like St. Louis, the Packers have a total of four prime-time games this season.
They are coming off a 16-13 win at Houston last Sunday night. The game was televised by ESPN.
It's the second straight season in which the Packers will be playing a Monday night game a week after playing on Sunday night. Last year, the Packers lost 17-14 to Philadelphia at Lambeau on "MNF" on Nov. 10, on the heels of winning 30-27 at Minnesota on ESPN's Sunday night telecast.
Counting this year's scheduling quirk, the Packers have encountered back-to-back prime-time games five times.
The first three instances required them to play on "MNF" before playing a Sunday night game. In 1996, they lost 21-6 at Dallas and won 24-9 at St. Louis. In 1997, they won 28-10 at New England and won 20-10 against visiting Detroit. In 2000, they lost 31-14 at Carolina and won 28-6 at Chicago.
The Rams lead the all-time series between the teams 45-40-2, including two postseason games. The series dates to 1937, when the Rams were based in Cleveland. They moved to Los Angeles in 1946 and then to St. Louis in 1995.
Incidentally, the Rams' first regular-season game since they relocated to St. Louis resulted in a 17-14 win over the Packers on Sept. 3, 1995, at Lambeau.
The St. Louis-based Rams have beaten the Packers three of five times, including the last two meetings. Both of those were played in St. Louis. The Rams prevailed 34-24 in the regular season last year and 45-17 in a 2001 NFC divisional-playoff game.
The Packers won the last game contested in Wisconsin, 17-7 on Nov. 9, 1997, at Lambeau.
The teams' other postseason encounter occurred Dec. 23, 1967. The Packers scored a 28-7 victory in the Western Conference Championship at Milwaukee. They ultimately went on to win Super Bowl II, 33-14 over Oakland.
- Favre needs only one touchdown pass to notch his 11th straight season with at least 20 TD throws, which would give him sole possession of the NFL record he currently shares with Dan Marino.
- Packers kicker Ryan Longwell needs to convert only his next extra-point attempt to extend his streak to 135, which would eclipse the team record he currently shares with Chris Jacke.
- The Rams are a victory shy of becoming only the fifth team in league history with 500 wins (regular season and postseason). The Packers have amassed 632 victories.