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Eli Manning To Become 6th QB In History To Start 100 Consecutive Regular Season Games


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Tim Hasselbeck once made his living as a backup quarterback in the NFL, so it’s almost programmed in his DNA to use the same tired quote about the job. You know the one: “It is my job to be ready for any situation.”


But he can be honest about it now. During his time with the Giants, there were toll collectors at the 16W Exit on the Turnpike who had as much a chance at starting in place of Eli Manning as he did.


“There was never a single time in my two years there when I thought, ‘Oh, I may be starting this week,’” Hasselbeck, who was with the team from 2005-06, said with a laugh Wednesday. “I don’t know if I ever took practice reps in my two years there, to be honest with you.”


He is hardly the only quarterback to toil behind Manning. The names have come and gone, from a potential Hall of Famer in Kurt Warner to a couple of TV analysts in Hasselbeck and Jesse Palmer to the current GM of a fledgling indoor team called the Northern Kentucky River Monsters.


Remember Jared Lorenzen? The “Hefty Lefty” probably came closest to starting in place of Manning, who had injured his shoulder in the season opener in 2007. One report predicted Manning would miss a month with an injury.


“I remember sitting in a production meeting with Troy Aikman and Joe Buck (before the next game), and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is going to come true, I’m really going to start this game,’” Lorenzen said.


Manning was back at practice in three days. And, after Manning started that week but left early in a blowout loss to the Packers, Lorenzen actually had to be replaced because of sprained ankle.


“Eli took every snap after that,” Lorenzen said. “He is one of the toughest quarterbacks you’ll never hear about.”


The word toughness is not often used to describe Manning, but it certainly applies. On Sunday against the Vikings, he will start his 100th consecutive regular-season game, becoming just the sixth quarterback in NFL history to do so.


Usually, when a player approaches a major milestone, people say “he’ll be in good company.” But the most impressive part of the club Manning is about to join are the quarterbacks who are not members.


Dan Marino is not in this club. John Elway is not in this club. Neither is Joe Montana or Johnny Unitas or Bart Starr or any quarterback currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Brett Favre, of course, is first all-time with 297 consecutive starts. Peyton Manning, at 204, is the only other quarterback to crack 200. Then, there are three non-active streaks: Ron Jaworski (116) Tom Brady (111) and Joe Ferguson (107).


And that’s it.


And that’s stunning.


“I know this is the case with Brett: Not playing is not an option,” said Hasselbeck, who now works for ESPN. “I really believe, for Eli, the same is true. If it’s at all possible, he’s going to play.”


If he does, two of the six in the 100-plus club will likely face each other. Favre is fighting through a shoulder injury, just his latest physical ailment in a difficult season with the Vikings, but the Giants — and everyone else — expect him to play.


His streak, once viewed as the most noble record in his sport, has become an albatross for his current team. They might be better off with backup Tarvaris Jackson, but the streak grinds on.


Manning doesn’t see it that way. He might not think about his own streak — “Until you told me, I didn’t know that was the case,” he said when asked about the milestone — but he marvels over what Favre has done.


“It’s more amazing just the amount of games he’s played, the 300 games,” Manning said. “That’s one third of my career, so I’ve got another 14 years to go. That would be a long time.”


His own ability to stay on the field is due to a variety of factors. David Carr, another of his former backups, said the Giants design their offense to avoid the big collisions that sideline so many quarterbacks.


“It’s his offensive line, obviously, and then it’s his football IQ,” Carr said. “He knows where he’s not protected and when he has to get rid of the ball.”


Part of it is also his physical toughness. Manning, at 6-4 and 225 pounds, can take a hit. He has played through at least two painful injuries, the shoulder strain in 2007 and a case of plantar fasciitis for several weeks last season.


And part of it is his mental toughness. It is easy to forget that, for the early part of his streak, Manning was hardly viewed as a Pro Bowler. Many saw him as a bust, and other than Tom Coughlin, no one took more blame for the team’s struggles.


“It would have been easy for him to say, ‘I’m banged up this week, I’m not going to practice Wednesday, and then you guys can see how bad it really is,” Hasselbeck said.


Instead, Manning kept playing — and Hasselbeck kept watching. At least, after 100 straight games, he knows he isn’t the only one to grow old waiting for a chance behind the Giants quarterback about to enter an exclusive club.



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It is an impressive feat for sure, I've criticized him for certtain things but not his durablility, he's a tough SOB.


And the Sportswrath Minnesota crew will be there to watch this game.. in case you guys forgot :)

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