Brett Favre set for tests with streak over

Updated: December 14, 2010, 1:13 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DETROIT -- No more, Brett.

After 297 consecutive starts over 19 seasons, one of the greatest individual streaks in all of sports, Brett Favre ran into an injury he couldn't beat and sat down.

The 41-year-old Vikings quarterback, who fought through broken bones, aches, pains and personal grief to play week after week, couldn't make it for the Minnesota Vikings in their 21-3 loss to the New York Giants on Monday night. Favre was sidelined by a throwing shoulder too damaged for even him to overcome.

"Seems like I been hurt a lot worse," Favre said after the game. "I can't believe something like this hasn't happened before."

Favre said he will undergo another examination Tuesday on his sprained SC joint, which he believes has exacerbated numbness in his right hand, but never suggested he could return for any of the Vikings' remaining three games.

"I won't play again if I can't feel my hand," Favre said. "I think it would be foolish to even consider playing if you don't have total feeling in five fingers."

Favre and Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier spoke extensively Monday night and are planning to speak again after Tuesday's exam.

In a technological twist, the record-ending decision was announced to the public on Twitter. Jeff Anderson, a Vikings spokesman, tweeted that Favre was out early Monday evening: "Vikings Inactives -- 12, 19, 25, 31, 76, 90, 91...and 4. The streak ends..."

The Vikings had hoped Favre, who started despite a broken foot and elbow tendinitis this season, could do it again when the game against the New York Giants was delayed from Sunday after the Metrodome roof collapsed. That forced the game to be moved to Ford Field, but it was not enough time for Favre to get healthy enough to play.

Frazier said the plan was for Favre to go through a pregame throwing routine to determine whether he could play, but the three-time MVP wasn't on the field about 90 minutes before kickoff, and the Vikings announced moments later that he was inactive.

"He was having trouble with numbness down through his shoulder and into his hand," Frazier said. "It was a no-brainer. We couldn't put him out there. He couldn't function as a quarterback."

At halftime, TV cameras showed Favre's right hand was purple.

I won't play again if I can't feel my hand.

-- Brett Favre on the rest of his season

Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell, also Favre's teammate for 12 years in Green Bay, told ESPN's Ed Werder that he spoke to Favre after the decision and that the quarterback was "at peace with it and seemed relieved it was over."

Favre echoed Longwell's sentiments in an emotional news conference after the game.

"Relief, in one sense. There wasn't a whole lot of pressure on me today," Favre said. "It's been a long time. I'd much rather be playing; that's just my nature. I don't want to say it was time, but it's probably been long overdue. There's probably been a lot of times the streak should have ended."

Shortly after Favre was declared inactive, his official website was selling autographed commemorative footballs. Inscribed with "297 starts 1992-2010," the footballs were priced at $499.99 each.

It's uncertain whether Favre will play again in this, his third comeback season from a brief retirement.

A source told Werder that Favre sees being placed on season-ending injured reserve as a plausible outcome because it would prevent regular speculation about his health for the final three weeks of the season.

"That's questions I haven't thought about, to be quite honest with you," Favre said. "I've always assumed I'd play every game; today was no exception. I enjoy playing.

"I don't want to say I'm shocked by the events of today. I guess in some way I expected it ... but I have no idea. It's unfortunate we're out of this playoff race. I'll just see how I feel this week and go from there."

[+] EnlargeBrett Favre
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesBrett Favre was inactive Monday night, ending his historic consecutive starts streak at 297 regular-season games.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf told Werder before Monday's game that he has not discussed putting Favre on IR or any other possibilities for how the Favre situation will be handled with the quarterback or Minnesota's coaching staff.

After the game, Frazier acknowledged that putting Favre on injured reserve, ending his season and possibly his career, is possible.

"But I'm hoping not," Frazier said.

On Monday night, Favre didn't come out on the field until about 35 minutes before the scheduled kickoff, wearing a T-shirt and warm-up pants. He hugged a teammate while receiving a few cheers from the crowd, then stood at the 15-yard line and chatted with Tarvaris Jackson, the new Minnesota starter.

After Minnesota's first drive, Favre looked at photo printouts with Jackson as the Vikings went over strategy. It didn't help much. The Giants sacked Jackson four times, knocking him out of the game late in the third period and again in the final seconds.

Current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski previously held the consecutive-starts record for a quarterback, but Favre passed him all the way back in 1999.

"I knew when my streak ended, it was because of a broken leg," Jaworski said. "I knew it was over. It was just kind of interesting following Brett this week. Now that we know it's over, we can kind of look back on it and marvel. I don't know if I can even put words on it."

The crowd in Detroit, where tickets were given out for free, had a chance to witness a bit of history.

"Ahhh, I feel bad for him," said Vikings season-ticket holder JoAnn Brown, who drove 12 hours to see the game in Detroit. "I wish he could've just got out there for the first play and just tossed the ball once to keep the streak."

Both Favre and Frazier had made it clear he would not be given a ceremonial start like that. Minnesota still had a slim chance to make the playoffs before the game, although that ended with the loss to the Giants.

The quarterback was injured when the Bills' Arthur Moats hit him square in the back and sent him to the turf on the third play from scrimmage last weekend. The day after, the rookie linebacker said he had mixed emotions about perhaps being the player who ended Favre's streak.

"I don't want to see anybody hurting and not playing any more. If he plays, that would be a good thing," Moats said. "But if he doesn't, and I was the guy to end the streak, all right. That's a little notable, yeah."

For some, it was hard to believe. Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald tweeted: "Even after the reports about Brett Favre being inactive I STILL won't believe that he's not playing until I see it w/ my own eyes!"

Cal Ripken, Major League Baseball's iron man, took a moment to congratulate Favre as well.

"Brett has had an incredible career and his consecutive games streak is remarkable," he said through a spokesman. "As a football fan I cannot fathom his accomplishment and I appreciate his dedication to and passion for the game. He is a true gamer and has provided us all with a lot of wonderful memories."

Season No. 20, though, has been one of Favre's toughest. He's taken a beating on the field and played not only through two fractures in his left foot and elbow tendinitis but 10 stitches in his chin along with aches in his neck, back and calf before he was crunched by Moats.

His stats haven't been so great, either. Favre has thrown a league-high 18 interceptions, and his 69.6 QB rating is 29th in the league.

He's also been the subject of an NFL investigation into allegations he sent inappropriate messages and photos to a game-day hostess when both worked for the New York Jets in 2008. The investigation has lasted for more than two months now, and the lawyer for Jenn Sterger was vocal last week in trying to get a ruling announced.

Through it all, Favre has led his team on the field, extending his streak further and further. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning now holds the longest streak at 205 games. He would need to keep it going for another 5½ years to surpass Favre.

"It's beyond reason. It's ridiculous," said Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who backed up Favre in Green Bay years ago. "He's gotten lucky a little bit, too, but he's just the toughest guy in the world."

Eli Manning, Peyton's brother and the Giants' starting quarterback, said he was shocked when he found out Favre was inactive.

"You don't know if this is the end for a guy who has done so much for the NFL," Eli Manning said.

It's a record that Favre cherishes. Over the years, he has played through a separated shoulder, concussions, a sprained knee and a broken thumb -- and he also took the field following the sudden death of his father and his wife being diagnosed with breast cancer.

"It's been a great run; I will not hang my head one bit because it ended today," Favre said. "I think about as a kid goals and dreams, I have far exceeded all of those. I never dreamed of playing 300-plus straight games [including playoffs]. I dreamed of playing in the NFL."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 238 other quarterbacks have started an NFL game since Favre's streak started, and 117 coaches have led their teams onto the field. Punter Jeff Feagles is the only player to appear in more than 300 consecutive NFL games; he played in 352 from 1988 to 2009.

Favre has been listed as questionable on the injury report heading into a game several times this season. But it was clear as soon as Moats blindsided him that this injury was more serious. Favre's injury is a rarity in sports, one that doctors say occurs most often when a person's body slams against the steering wheel in an auto accident.

Favre said Wednesday he was having difficulty putting on a shirt or pulling on socks, and he did not throw a proper pass all week in preparation for the Giants.

On Sunday, Favre told Werder that the injury has produced a knot the size of a golf ball located between his neck and collarbone, and that he's experienced numbness in his right hand all week. Favre said he believes it's the result of both the sprained shoulder itself and the fact that it aggravated a pinched nerve in his neck that he's had since the Washington game two weeks ago.

Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin (migraines) and guard Steve Hutchinson (thumb) were also inactive Monday night. Harvin didn't make the trip to Detroit with the team.

The Giants, however, welcomed wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith back to the lineup. Both players were active and played after sitting out several games with injuries. Offensive lineman David Diehl started as well.

Information from ESPN's Ed Werder, ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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