Longevity has always been one measure of sports greatness.
It requires a bit of luck so far as staying healthy goes, but it also requires the skill to keep playing at a level that keeps a player on a list or in a competition year after year.
In the AFL, the big milestone is 300 games and that has become something of a benchmark for those who aspire to long-term greatness.
There is the 400 club, but just four have made it that far, Brent Harvey with North Melbourne, Michael Tuck with Hawthorn, Keven Bartlett with Richmond and Dustin Fletcher with Essendon. Respectively, those four played 432, 426, 403 and 400 games.
The pattern is clear. Those four players who lasted beyond 400 games or more all played in the not-too-distant past. Harvey just finished up in 2016, Fletcher in 2015. None go back further than Bartlett, who went from 1965 – 1983.
There is really only one active player closing in on the 400 mark. Shaun Burgoyne has 341 games, 157 with Port Adelaide and 184 with Hawthorn. He will be 35 when the 2018 AFL season starts, and given the way the Hawks are going, Burgoyne will have to play every game for the next three seasons. He did have his best year since 2013 last year, kicking 17 goals and his disposals were right in line with his best years.
For the upcoming season, there are three players who can join the 300 club. They are Eddie Betts, Kade Simpson and Jordan Lewis. Simpson has been with the Carlton Blues the entire time. His 300th game, assuming he stays intact, with come in Round 15 at the MCG when the Blues play Port.
Lewis played 264 games for Hawthorn and 19 for Melbourne. He has four premierships over his time with the Hawks and will notch 300 in Round 18.
Betts is the intriguing prospect for a math viewpoint. He is sitting on 277 games, so if he makes it to 300 this year, the Crows will have to make it to the finals. Betts and the Crows both would like to see his run include not just a grand final appearance, but also a grand final win.