This is one debate in which there is no shame in finishing second.
But we have to pick one, and for sheer toughness I have to go with the NFL quarterback.
To play 162 baseball games over roughly 180 days is very difficult, and few players do it today, even for one season. It's grueling, and even if one is lucky enough to avoid injuries, the fatigue is a formidable obstacle. It's also unnecessary for a baseball player to play every game, the primary reason it's not done much these days.
The NFL quarterback is in a different iron man's league. He is playing in a violent contact sport, and is generally much smaller than most of the 11 players assigned to clobber him on every play. Then there is pressure. The quarterback is relied upon like no one in any sport; any time a top QB misses a start, it is likely to cost his team the game, and a game is one of 16, not one of 162.
Football is brutal
Los Angeles Times
As much as I respect baseball players for grinding out the 162-game schedule, I'm going to have to go with Brett Favre over Cal Ripken because of the sheer violence of his sport.
To have survived the brutal contact of the NFL and to have started every game for some 18 years is astonishing. Plus, in baseball, and not that Ripken did this often, you can essentially take a day off and extend a consecutive-games streak with a late-inning pinch-hit appearance or an inning in the field.
Edge to the outlaw
Kevin Van Valkenburg
Cal Ripken was a statesman. For a lot of fans, he represented working-class dignity and humility.
Brett Favre was an outlaw. He didn't care for rules or discipline, and when he was young, it was endearing.
As much we admire Ripken's dignity and appreciate that he didn't sully his legacy, I believe Favre's streak is the greater accomplishment.
Ripken's streak was a daily grind, but Favre's was a weekly war between pain and his body. Favre got up again and again after taking hits that would have broken lesser men.
Both streaks took on a life of their own. Both required a healthy dose of ego. Ripken ended his streak with grace, on his own terms, and Favre did not. Favre, in general, did not handle the end of his career well. But Favre's accomplishment was the more impressive.
No comparison; QB wins
Unless I missed Cal Ripken fielding some grounders with the opposing batter running at him, there's no comparison between his consecutive games streak and the one Brett Favre just finished.
Ripken's is longer. Favre's is stronger. Football is a brutal sport, with large men trying to separate Favre from his senses on every snap. Baseball is a walk in the park by comparison. Granted, Ripken's durability is impressive given the number of bumps and bruises that can happen over the course of 162 games. But how often do concussions happen in baseball?
Favre landed on Lambeau Field's Frozen Tundra so often, there might be an honorary body chalk outline of him there. It doesn't take a Lambeau Leap to say that Favre's feat is tougher. It just takes common sense.