With Peyton Manning Sidelined, Ronde Barber Becomes NFL's Ironman

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning apparently is human.

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Manning, the leagues active leader for consecutive games started, will miss his first game as a professional this Sunday against the Texans with a neck injury that has kept the Colts' signal caller sidelined throughout training camp and the preseason. Manning has started every game for the Colts since being drafted in 1998, a streak of 208 straight games.

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Second on that list is Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber, and when Manning fails to suit up for the Texans, the 5 five-time All-pro will take over as the NFL's active Ironman. Unlike Manning, Barber did not start immediately and struggled to find playing time in his first two seasons while adapting to the speed of the NFL and then then-coach Tony Dungy's cover two scheme. Barbers streak began in November of 1999 when he got a mid season start against the Atlanta Falcons; 183 games later and he's still going strong.

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Barber, the only player in NFL history to record 26 sacks and 40 interceptions, continues to impress his coaches, writes Stephen Holder of the St. Petersburg Times.

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"Ronde, he's already legendary in my eyes anyway," coach Raheem Morris said. "When you talk about the cornerback position and playing that long, that's certainly difficult. He's 46 years old and he's still out there. He's older than his coach."

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Morris is just teasing, Barber is only 36 (Morris is 35), but he is correct in his assessment that having such career longevity is impressive, and not without a bit of luck. Too his credit, Barber is not letting the accomplishment go to his head, telling reporters, "I'll let you pat me on the back."

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Barber's tremendous career does beg the question, is the cornerback a future Hall of Fame candidate?

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