In light of Dan Marino's assault on the record book, SI asked five longtime football observers—former coaches Hank Stram and Tom Landry, former player and current TV analyst Matt Millen, Giant general manager George Young and Pro Football Hall of Fame historian Joe Horrigan—to pick the unbreakable NFL records. All five reminded us that Sammy Baugh's 1943 feat of leading the league in passing, punting and interceptions will obviously never be broken, unless the NFL returns to one-platoon football.
And all five agreed that of the records today's players can aim for, the one least likely to be broken is former Viking defensive lineman Jim Marshall's streak of 282 consecutive games played. Marshall took the field for every game, every year, for 20 years. "We'll see another star in the east before that happens again," says Stram. The closest Marshall came to missing a game was midway through the streak when, suffering from acute asthmatic bronchitis, he lived in a hospital oxygen tent for two weeks. He left the tent twice—to play.
One of Marshall's teammates, center Mick Tingelhoff, is second on the consecutive-games-played list, but his streak ended 42 games short of Marshall's record—three full seasons behind in the days of the 14-game schedule. Several current players share the active mark of 133 consecutive games, and if one of them is to catch Marshall, he will have to play more than nine seasons without a break. Sounds impossible? Marshall, for one, isn't so sure. "They said no one would ever break Lou Gehrig's record, either," he says.
According to our panel, here are the NFL records that are the least likely to be broken.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]