Chiefs center has played 10,141 consecutive snaps
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — They’ll probably need to throw out a grappling hook someday and snag Casey Wiegmann by his tough old hide.
Howling in protest, fingernails clawing the earth, Kansas City’s iron man center will be dragged off the field. It’s possible he will tell his coach it’s time somebody else went in, but the tough-as-nails Wiegmann is unlikely to simply give up his amazing streak of more than 10,000 consecutive snaps.
Starting on Sept. 23, 2001, against the New York Giants and continuing through Sunday against Oakland, Wiegmann has played 10,141 straight snaps for the Chiefs and Denver Broncos. That means except for long snaps on kicks, he hasn’t taken off a single play in 159 straight games through too many bumps, bruises, aches and pains to recall, let alone worry about.
When Kansas City puts the ball in play Sunday against Baltimore in the AFC playoffs, the streak will reach 10,142 and he plans to keep right on rolling.
“I don’t know what it says about me,” said Wiegmann, a laconic 37-year-old Iowa native now in his 15th year in the NFL. “It can say I’m tough. It can say I’m stupid. I just like playing football. It’s the way I am. I like playing for my teammates and I don’t want to miss any time.”
In a violent sport where orthopedic surgeons are on standby at every game, Wiegmann has been about as indestructible as flesh and bone have a right to be. At 6-foot2 and 285 pounds, he frequently battles men who outweigh him by 50 pounds or more.
Nobody knows if he holds any kind of NFL record. The league does not track such things. So how Wiegmann stacks up with famous streaks such as Brett Favre’s 297 regular-season games started at quarterback or Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 straight games in baseball is impossible to gauge.
“The reason they don’t keep such stats is because what he’s done is so far out of the realm of possibility,” said Mike Vrabel, Kansas City’s three-time Super Bowl-winning linebacker. “It’s just too tough.”
Back in 2001, an emergency appendectomy put Wiegmann out of action for the season opener. Then the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 bought him one more week to heal. He’s not missed a single snap since.
“When I missed with the appendectomy, I kind of felt guilty, like I was cheating,” Wiegmann said. “I kind of took that to heart.”
To teammates and coaches of the AFC West champion Chiefs, he’s a marvel.
“I don’t think anybody really understands how great an achievement that is,” Chiefs Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters said. “It’s hard for guys to go through one season without missing any time. You would be hard-pressed to find anybody in the history of the game who played 10,000 straight snaps. That means you’ve never come out of a game for injury, or because your team is winning by a whole bunch, or losing by a whole bunch, or because they found somebody who plays your position better than you.”
It also means the man must love playing football.
“You’d have to love it. It’s just too tough,” Vrabel said. “I’ve played with a lot of guys who were really good at football but didn’t love it. I guarantee you, Casey loves it.”
Coach Todd Haley and line coach Bill Muir have approached Wiegmann about possibly taking a little time off to rest up and heal his aches and pains. Apparently, the conversations went nowhere.
“He’s not your average human being,” Haley said with a wry smile. “You would have no idea what he’s done. He’s as humble as he can be. You’ve got to squeeze words out of him.”
Injuries have threatened the streak several times. It nearly ended in 2005 with an injury to his right knee. But Wiegmann pushed through the pain. He knows he’ll go into retirement someday with a rare distinction that can’t be found in the record book.
“Yeah, I take great pride in the number,” he said. “I wish they kept records like that. I’m sure they don’t. But as a football player, if other football players saw something like that, I would hope they would respect it a little.”
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