People used to ask Cal Ripken Jr. to compare his Major League Baseball-record games-played streak of 2,632 to that of Brett Favre, who ended his career with a record 297 consecutive regular-season starts as an NFL quarterback.
But now there is a new quarterbacking ironman slowly but surely gaining on Favre, so Newsday asked Ripken to compare what he did to the Giants’ Eli Manning’s 185 consecutive starts – 196 if you count postseason.
“Well, I didn’t have anybody hunting for my head every single play,” he said at a luncheon in Manhattan to preview Turner’s postseason baseball coverage. “But, I mean, there are some demands by doing it every single day – like getting hit in the wrist or hit in the hand. You’ve seen those injuries can happen – a fracture and you’re out.
“So there were many times I got hit in the elbow or hand or sliding into a base wrong or somebody slides into you. There are many bumps, but you have to turn it around quickly. So physically I felt like I was pretty blessed. Then there were some intangibles of a little bit of luck that nothing serious happened to me.
“The harder part about playing every day and answering the call is the mental side – convincing yourself you can. And if you play 162 one time and finish strong, you’ve answered the question of whether you’re capable. So then any slumps that you have, any fatigue that you have, it’s normal and you just try to deal with it. So to me it’s a mental thing.
“In football you’re playing every Sunday and the demands physically of the game, especially with guys coming after you all the time, it’s pretty amazing physically that they can answer the bell every Sunday. It is impressive.
“I always just thought it was an honor and a sense of responsibility you had to the team to show up and play.”