Brett Favre’s record streak of 297 straight starts has ended. His National Football League playing career may also be over.
For the first time in 18 years, Favre was inactive on game day and stood on the sidelines in warm-up gear as the Minnesota Vikings lost 21-3 to the New York Giants last night.
With his throwing hand still numb from a shoulder injury suffered last week, the 41-year-old Favre was replaced at quarterback by Tarvaris Jackson as the Vikings recorded their fewest offensive yards in a game since 2006.
“There wasn’t really a flood of emotions,” Favre said during a news conference. “I just couldn’t play. I didn’t think I could function good enough to help us win.”
The end of the streak comes in a season in which the three- time NFL Most Valuable Player has been hampered by injuries and became the subject of a two-month NFL investigation into whether he sent lewd messages to a former female co-worker.
A year after leading the Vikings within one win of the Super Bowl while passing for 33 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions, Favre has 10 touchdowns and a league-high 18 interceptions. The Vikings fell to 5-8 with last night’s loss at Detroit’s Ford Field and will miss the NFL postseason for the first time in three years.
Favre has said this will be his last year in the NFL. With three games left, his ability to play again will depend on the severity of the injury. Favre says he may have trauma to a nerve in the shoulder and will have more medical tests today.
“I’m not going to play again if I can’t feel my hand,” said Favre, who holds NFL passing records for yards, touchdowns, completions and interceptions. “It’s not so much the pain, it’s the tingling. It’d be foolish to even consider playing if you don’t have total feeling in five fingers.”
Favre’s record run began Sept. 27, 1992, in a 17-3 win over Pittsburgh. He’s also started 24 playoff games during his career, boosting his overall run to 321 straight starts.
“It’s the greatest record in sports,” Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, now an NFL analyst for Fox, said during last night’s telecast. “I don’t think it will ever be broken. Not only did he play 20 years, but you’ve got to be healthy.”
Favre got an extra day of rest when yesterday’s game was pushed back from Sunday and moved to Detroit after the roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome gave way under the weight of 17 inches (43 centimeters) of snow. It wasn’t enough for Favre, who sprained a joint in his throwing shoulder during the first quarter of a Dec. 5 win against Buffalo.
Favre didn’t practice last week because of the injury, which he said made it painful to even put on a shirt.
“I’ve played through a lot of stuff, but I think this is something different,” said Favre. “I have to be more cautious.”
By the time last night’s game started, Favre’s website was selling signed footballs commemorating his streak for $499.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is now the active leader with 205 consecutive regular-season starts.
Manning, 34, began his streak in 1998 and under the current 16-game schedule must play until Week 10 of the 2016 season to pass Favre.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who made his 100th consecutive start last night, was 11 years old when Favre’s streak began. The Manning brothers are among only four other quarterbacks in NFL history to start more than 100 straight games. ESPN said 237 quarterbacks have started an NFL game since Favre’s streak began.
“It’s been a great run. I will not hang my head one bit because it ended,” Favre said. “It’s been pretty amazing.”
Playing Through Injury
Favre, who was talked into returning for a 20th NFL season when three teammates traveled to his home in Mississippi during the preseason, had extended his streak through a series of injuries this year.
The 11-time Pro Bowl selection was bothered by tendinitis in his elbow and suffered two fractures in his foot during an Oct. 24 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the team he spent 16 seasons with. One week later, Favre was knocked out of a loss to the New England Patriots when he was struck in the jaw and needed stitches to close a cut on his chin.
Favre also traded verbal barbs with former Vikings coach Brad Childress, who was fired last month.
Favre, who has been married for 14 years, met with the NFL about allegations that he sent graphic photos and suggestive messages to a female co-worker while he was with the Jets in 2008. Favre still may face discipline from the league.
“When you think back, I’ll think more about last season than I will about this season,” Favre said. “But you take the good with the bad. I knew that coming into this season -- there’s no guarantees.”
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