Rams try to salvage playoff hopes

A struggling St. Louis team squares off with the red-hot Packers.
Sunday, November 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:54 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Brett Favre, who starts his 200th straight regular-season game Monday night against the St. Louis Rams, always figured he’d be a major league baseball player growing up.

“That was my better sport,” confessed the Green Bay Packers’ star quarterback, who went to Southern Mississippi to play both football and baseball, but hung up his glove for good after winning the starting quarterback job as a freshman.

He didn’t want to miss spring football practice and give somebody else a chance to steal his starting job.

It’s the same novel mixture of fear and fortitude that drives him to this day.

The three-time MVP, who shows no signs of slowing down at age 35 as he closes in on just about every quarterback record he doesn’t already own, is as celebrated for his practice habits as Michael Jordan was in his heyday.

Favre used to say earlier in his career that he was simply driven by dread — he didn’t want to be benched.

“Well, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely put it behind me,” Favre said. “Obviously, I’m more at ease with my position here, but I don’t think a player can ever be completely settled in because you’re always replaceable. There’s always some guy, some young guy, at some point, who is there to take your spot.”

No matter how good you are.

“It happened with Joe Montana, it happened with Jerry Rice, it happened with Emmitt Smith and so on,” Favre said. “And I think it’s a good thing to always look over your shoulder.”

That way, Favre never becomes what he loathes: cocky or complacent.

Thing is, he’s felt that way about most every other start since taking over for Don Majkowski on Sept. 27, 1992.

Since then, 11 of his backups have gone on to start for another team, and last week, Eli Manning became the 178th quarterback to have started a game in the NFL since Favre last came off the bench. The Chicago Bears have had 18 quarterbacks during Favre’s starting streak.

Cal Ripken Jr. and Lou Gehrig were the only other athletes in major American sports history to start every game for their teams over a span of at least a dozen years.

Both the Rams (5-5) and the Packers (6-4), perennial playoff teams, need a strong finish to reach the postseason. And they’re seemingly headed in opposite directions.

The Packers have won five straight, the last two on last-second field goals by Ryan Longwell, in their quest to become just the ninth team in league history to reach the playoffs after starting 1-4. The Rams have dropped three of their last four.

St. Louis ranks 29th in the league against the run, but the Rams could be catching a big break: The Packers are banged up in the backfield with Ahman Green (ribs), Najeh Davenport (hamstrings), Nick Luchey (shoulder) and Walt Williams (ankle) all hurt.

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