Boom times .... .North's Brent Harvey on his way to collecting 37 possessions against Geelong. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
So brutal is the modern game, it seems implausible that any current player - or anyone who follows - will survive long enough to reach 400 games, let alone challenge Michael Tuck's record of 426. Yet if there is any active player in a position to contemplate such feats, it is Brent Harvey.
AFL games record holder, then Hawthorn captain Michael Tuck, holds the 1989 premiership cup aloft. Photo: Ray Kennedy
The North Melbourne veteran is not only "still going"... he is going as strong as ever.
It took another 37-disposal, best-on-ground performance against Geelong on Friday night to remind those who don't watch the Roos closely just how damaging Harvey can still be, even at 35.
But those who follow North every week know exactly how valuable their five-time best and fairest has been this season, even after entering the fray six weeks late because of a suspension held over from 2012.
Brent Harvey is on the cusp of matching John Blakey's AFL games mark. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Dealing in averages, Champion Data ranks Harvey No.1 at his club for disposals, uncontested possessions and handball receives - evidence he can still run faster for longer - and No.3 for scoreboard impact - proof he can still hurt the opposition with his skills and decision-making.
It is an extraordinary stat line for a midfielder in his 18th season, and numbers that make the likelihood of a 19th season a near certainty.
But just how long can this running machine keep chugging along?
Is Kevin Bartlett's mark of 403 matches within sight for Boomer? Photo: Pat Scala
On Sunday, Harvey will equal former team-mate John Blakey on the AFL's all-time games record list when he plays his 359th match against Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.
Blakey, now an assistant coach at Sydney, still rates Harvey (35, remember) as "probably North's best player" when he is on top of his game. Under that premise, who knows what he is capable of. "Barring a serious injury, I just think he could probably keep playing for probably another two or three years," Blakey said.
Consider that for a minute. All things being equal, Harvey will finish this season on 362 games.
Another two seasons would provide the Roos star with at least 44 more games, plus finals, to play and the chance to not only break through the 400-game barrier, but also eclipse Kevin Bartlett's mark of 403 matches.
Another 22 games or more the following season would then put Tuck's 426 in the gun.
Injury is the only thing standing in his way, although it has hardly ever done so before during his lengthy career.
Since and including his first full season in 1998, Harvey has played 340 out of a possible 364 games, and of the 24 matches where his name was not on the team sheet, suspension has accounted for nine.
That means Harvey has missed just 13 games in his last 16 seasons with injury, and that includes an elbow injury that kept him sidelined for seven games in 2009.
If you take out that injury and the six games he missed at the start of this season due to suspension, Harvey has not missed a game since round 20, 2004 for any other reason... and that covers 190 straight matches.
"He just loves playing, and that's what keeps you going - perhaps more than just playing to win a premiership and then going out that way or playing for individual awards," Blakey said.
"If you don't have that pure love for the contest, you don't last that long because you start taking short cuts," he said.
"And certainly for him it is a challenge every week because he knows more than likely he is going to be tagged. And if you don't enjoy the contest, and enjoy the rivalry with your opponent then you don't stand the test of time."
Predictions of surpassing 400 games and Tuck are far away but not so far fetched when you consider Dustin Fletcher, Robert Harvey and Craig Bradley played until they were 37 or 38 and Fletcher and Harvey completed 21 seasons (Fletcher is completing his 21st this year).
Harvey is 35 and this is his 18th season, and he is as close to his best than any of the others were at the same stage of their careers. So why couldn't he go for another three?
His incredible durability is the reason Roos coach Brad Scott said last week that Harvey prepares for games better than anyone he had ever seen and why Gerard Healy this week called him "Tuck and Bartlett-esque".
Adding further weight to the argument that Harvey could go on until 2016 is the introduction of the substitute rule - something none of the retired greats ahead of him on that all time list had the benefit of.
Harvey has already indicated that he thinks he could prolong his career by a year or two longer than most think by turning into North's "Super Sub" off the bench.
Blakey said he believed Harvey would be the perfect impact player to fill that role in the coming years.
"He has always had asset of his speed, and even in today's game, it is still one of the best assets you can have because you can break the game open," he said.
"I don't know how he's held onto it as long as he has, but he certainly hasn't slowed down."