It isn’t that I didn’t care that Giants punter Jeff Feagles was on the brink of becoming the NFL’s Iron Man. It has more to do with staying up very late the other night thinking of ways to combine “Feagles”, “Beagles” and “Wrong Way Reagles” in a joke and not getting the job done.
And isn’t that I don’t respect Jeff Feagles. It’s just that he now reminds me of my own shortcomings…and I can’t handle it.
On Sunday in Seattle, Feagles will break a tie with defensive lineman Jim Marshall for the record for consecutive games played, though few people in the NFL and outside of it would equate Feagles’ new record of 283 consecutive games with Marshall’s.
Ray Guy (above), who on Tuesday was named among 25 NFL greats for 2006 Hall of Fame consideration, once again is vying to become the first punter enshrined in the Hall. The voters for that honor repeatedly have turned Guy away, forcing the player considered the first of the great true punters to justify why he merits consideration alongside offensive and defensive stars.
Feagles hasn’t missed a game since he broke in with the Patriots in 1988 as an unsigned free agent out of Miami. He’s been cut only once, by the Patriots after the 1990 season. For a punter with more than a few years’ NFL service, that is certainly a record, one that testifies to Feagles’ ability.
“Health is one thing, but you’re not going to play 18 years if you’re not that good,” said Feagles, who broke his arm in 2001 when he was with the Seahawks and suffered a concussion in the season opener a year ago on a hit by the Eagles’ Jeremiah Trotter.
“It is pretty remarkable that I’ve been able to do this up until almost age 40. [No. 283] is just a number, but it’s a pretty historic number.”
Feagles owns almost all the other NFL punting records now, too, having broken Sean Landeta’s record for number of punts in the season opener. But breaking Marshall’s record puts Feagles in the record books among the “regular” players, and that’s where things get dicey.
Marshall himself has been cordial in interviews, saying little to disparage Feagles. Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell got the negativity ball rolling two weeks ago, saying Feagles’ record deserves an asterisk because the punter is, at most, a 5-to-10-play participant. And Cottrell had been a Cardinals assistant coach when Feagles played for Arizona, too.
“Hey, every play is critical, and coaches should know that,” said Guy, who runs a lumber company in his hometown of Thompson, Ga. “What [Feagles] has done is great, 18 years, five different teams. You know he’s doing it right, because you don’t get many chances to mess up as a punter.”