Today’s news that Peyton Manning will miss the first start of his NFL career on Sunday means that Manning’s streak of consecutive regular-season starts will end at 208 games. And that means Brett Favre’s record for consecutive starts by a quarterback is safe for a long, long time.
Favre started 297 straight regular-season games, a streak that began in September of 1992 and ended in December of 2010. That record will definitely stand for many years, and will probably stand for many decades.
When Peyton Manning sits out Sunday, he’ll hand the longest active streak to his younger brother, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who is set to start his 104th consecutive game on Sunday against the Redskins. That’s an impressive achievement — but a long, long way from Favre.
Eli can play every game for the next 12 seasons and still not catch Favre. Assuming the NFL sticks to 16-game seasons, Eli wouldn’t break Favre’s record until the 2023 season, when he’ll be 42 years old.
After Eli, the next-longest active streak belongs to Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers, who currently stands at 80 starts in a row. Rivers has started every game for five straight years, but he can play 13 more full seasons and still not break Favre’s record: Rivers would have to play every single game through 2024, the season when he’ll turn 43, to break Favre’s record.
As impressive as the streaks belonging to Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers are, it’s just not realistic to think they would keep playing into their 40s and never miss a game. So don’t count on Favre’s record being broken by either of them.
And once you get past Manning and Rivers, it’s anyone’s guess which quarterback might break Favre’s consecutive starts record. Joe Flacco, who has started the first 48 games of his NFL career? Maybe, but he’d have to play every week into 2026. Sam Bradford, who has started the first 16 games of his NFL career? Maybe, but he’d have to play every week into 2028.
Future quarterbacks hoping to break Favre’s record might need fewer years to do it, because the NFL might expand to 18-game seasons. But even if NFL seasons last 18 games, a quarterback will have to play 17 seasons without missing a game to break Favre’s record. That’s awfully hard to do — and might become harder if longer seasons lead to more injuries.
If Peyton Manning eventually gets healthy and gets back on the field, we’ll probably see him break Favre’s NFL records for pass attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. But we won’t see him break Favre’s record for consecutive starts. We may never see anyone break that record.