Bart Starr and the Green Bay Packers dominated ’60s football. The quarterback led the team to five league championships and the first two Super Bowl wins. Starr played for legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi but initially struggled to land the starting QB role. Once he got the job, there was no looking back. Starr later became Green Bay’s head coach. And his players remember him most for teaching them valuable life lessons.
Bart Starr’s football career
Starr was drafted by the Packers in 1956, but it took almost four years to get a start and five to secure the job. Starr began his onslaught in 1961 when he threw for 2,400 yards, including 16 touchdowns. The Packers would win the NFL Championship that year and go on to a repeat victory in 1962.
He played in the first two Super Bowls, which the Packers won, and was named MVP of both — not a bad addition to his resume. While on paper, he might not have been the most successful quarterback, his dominance of the 1960s proves otherwise. The Packers website lists Starr as the NFL leader in passing for 1962, 1964, and 1966, and he held the record for completion percentage (57.4%) when he retired.
His coach Vince Lombardi, also gave him high praise when asked about comparisons to quarterback great Johnny Unitas: “Johnny Unitas has been a great, great, great quarterback. But Starr did the winning in the 1960s. And that is the object — to win.”
Starr’s life lessons
Starr announced his retirement from the game in 1972 but didn’t stray too far from the field. He immediately started work as the Packers quarterback coach and took over the head coaching job in 1975. His record over those nine seasons was an unimpressive 52-76-3, but what he lacked in onfield success, he made up for with solid advice and life lessons for his players.
One of his former players, James Lofton, was recently interviewed by Morton Andersen’s Great Dane Nation podcast and discussed how he thinks about some of the lessons his old coach taught him daily. He went on to tell a story of how after a training camp session guys were changing and there were laundry baskets for shirts, jockstraps, and socks, but some of the boys were lazy and left their items on the floor.
Starr came in and said, “I know this is not a team of basketball players. But it doesn’t take a lot of effort to put your t-shirt, and your jocks, and your socks in the laundry bin. And put your tape in the trash can. We do have people who come in and clean up after you. But the true measure of a man is how he treats somebody who can do nothing for him.”
Lofton acknowledges that that simple piece of advice is something he takes with him and uses as a basis to live his life.
Bart Starr’s legacy
Starr will be remembered as part of Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay dynasty. From dominating the 1960s to playing in the first Super Bowl, he paved the way for quarterbacks of today. While his coaching record wasn’t the greatest, he gave his players sound advice and ways to live and treat others with respect and dignity.
Starr was married to his wife Cherry for more than 60 years, and both were involved in various charitable foundations throughout his career. He suffered a series of strokes in 2014 and a mild heart attack. Although he worked to recover, various health setbacks followed, and Starr passed away in 2019 at the age of 85.