On Now
Coming Up
  • Sat., Dec. 16, 2017 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM EST Ravens Report Ravens Report, the flagship program of the Baltimore Ravens that showcases life in the NFL. Tune in Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. on WBAL.
  • Sat., Dec. 16, 2017 7:30 PM - 8:00 PM EST Ravens Wired See the plays, hear the sideline conversations and feel the hits on Ravens Wired, the only behind-the-scenes show featuring a Ravens player wired for sound during each week's game. Tune in Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. on WBAL.
  • Sun., Dec. 17, 2017 1:00 AM - 1:30 AM EST Unscripted Ravens beat writers Ryan Mink and Garrett Downing join our host to tackle the latest Ravens headlines and hottest topics. Tune in after Saturday Night Live on WBAL.
  • Sun., Dec. 17, 2017 12:30 PM EST Live Audio Broadcast Tune in for a live audio broadcast of the Ravens at Browns game.
  • Mon., Dec. 18, 2017 4:00 PM - 4:15 PM EST Live Monday Press Conference Watch Head Coach John Harbaugh address the media.
  • Thu., Dec. 21, 2017 12:40 PM - 1:00 PM EST Live Week 16 Press Conference Watch Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosbury, Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees address the media.
  • Sat., Dec. 23, 2017 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM EST Ravens Report Ravens Report, the flagship program of the Baltimore Ravens that showcases life in the NFL. Tune in Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. on WBAL.
  • Sat., Dec. 23, 2017 7:30 PM - 8:00 PM EST Ravens Wired See the plays, hear the sideline conversations and feel the hits on Ravens Wired, the only behind-the-scenes show featuring a Ravens player wired for sound during each week's game. Tune in Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. on WBAL.
  • Sun., Dec. 24, 2017 1:00 AM - 1:30 AM EST Unscripted Ravens beat writers Ryan Mink and Garrett Downing join our host to tackle the latest Ravens headlines and hottest topics. Tune in after Saturday Night Live on WBAL.
  • Mon., Dec. 25, 2017 4:00 PM - 4:15 PM EST Live Monday Press Conference Watch Head Coach John Harbaugh address the media.

News

Print
RSS

Eisenberg: Joe Thomas' Streak Rivals Baltimore's Ironman

Posted Sep 16, 2017

Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas is expected to take his 10,000th consecutive snap Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. How does that compare to some of sports' other Ironmen?


I’m not into tooting my own horn, but for the purposes of this column, I can acknowledge that I do have bona fides as an expert on sports endurance.

A few months ago I published a book titled “The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Baseball’s Most Historic Record.” Four-and-a-half years in the making, it studies baseball’s consecutive-game record from all angles. Ripken holds the record, probably forever, after playing in 2,632 straight games for the Orioles. That’s more than 16 seasons of games.

The book doesn’t get into Ironmen in other sports, but I’ve done many interviews while promoting it, and the question has arisen: How does Ripken’s feat stack up against those of endurance record-setters in other sports?

Brett Favre started 297 straight games at quarterback, mostly for the Green Bay Packers. His streak lasted more than 18 years, and it’s the NFL record -- a feat that certainly compares with Ripken’s, especially when you consider Ripken’s opponents weren’t trying to take his head off.

Andrew Cogliano of the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks has played in 786 straight games, leaving him several years short of that sport’s record of 964 straight, held by Doug Jarvis, a retired player who never missed a game in his 13-year career. Impressive.

But now I’m hearing about a streak that, in my opinion, can’t possibly rank below any in terms of degree of difficulty – a streak that, coincidentally, will reach a major milestone Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, just across the parking lot from where Ripken played.

Joe Thomas, a 32-year-old tackle for the Cleveland Browns, has played in 161 straight games, all starts. He has never missed a start since joining the Browns in 2007 as their first-round draft pick.

That’s obviously quite a run, but Thomas is still well short of Favre’s record. What’s so special about his streak?

Thomas has never missed a play in his career, now in its second decade. He has played 9,996 straight snaps for the Browns.

To be clear, he has never come off the field in more than 10 years in the NFL. Never rested even for one play as a pro.

A snap streak tests the limits of what statisticians can quantify, but Thomas’ run is almost surely the longest ever. He’ll reach 10,000 straight snaps Sunday if he participates in the Browns’ first four offensive plays against the Ravens.

It’s the understatement of the year to say he’ll likely do it.

“Damn, that is legit,” said the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs, who lines up opposite Thomas, after learning about Thomas’ streak earlier this week. “That is pretty amazing, especially in this league. It is a physical league for his position. That is a pretty awesome milestone, accomplishment.”

I asked Marshal Yanda, the Ravens’ All-Pro guard, if he knew Thomas was closing in on 10,000 straight snaps. Yanda started answering before I finished my question.

“Well aware. I would just say that is unreal,” Yanda replied.

Thomas and Yanda have similar biographies. College ball in the Big Ten. Same draft class. Now they’re All-Pros known for being tough, durable and very, very good.

“Joe is a Hall of Famer, no doubt,” Yanda said.

Yanda might be, too. One of the few differences between them is Yanda has suffered enough serious injuries to miss 16 games since 2007.

“I’m trying to be like him, and it’s a pain the ass. I can’t do it,” Yanda said. “You know he was injured at some point in those 11 years. He’s been able to fight though it. It’s just awesome.”

Ripken didn’t come off the field for more than five straight years early in his career, playing 8,264 straight innings. But his father, Cal Ripken Sr., then managing the Orioles, pulled him from a game and ended that streak one night in 1987 when the Orioles, already out of playoff contention, were 15 runs behind.

“He couldn’t hit a 20-run homer,” Ripken Sr. groused.

That’s what makes Thomas’ streak so remarkable. The lowly Browns are 48-113 since he joined them. They’ve changed regimes and quarterbacks, but not their results. Many of Thomas’ snaps have come in discouraging defeats.

But he has never used that as an excuse for taking a rest. He has never used anything as an excuse.

It’s really an apples-and-oranges comparison with Ripken’s streak, but I have no doubt Ripken, a keen fan of other sports, would contemplate 10,000 straight NFL snaps and exclaim, “Wow, now THAT is an Ironman.”

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

Related News

Recent Videos

Recent Photos

Save