By Riley Magnuson |
“Third down and inches to go to pay dirt. 17-14 Cowboys out in front. Starr begins the count. Takes the snap, he’s got the quarterback sneak and he’s in for the touchdown and the Packers are out in front! And the Green Bay Packers are going to be World Champions!”
One of the most iconic QB sneaks in the historic Ice Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys will live in infamy and so will the man who sealed the victory in that 1967 World Championship. Leading a team littered with hall of famers on both sides of the ball, including the great Vince Lombardi manning the sideline, Bart Starr was the first in a line of legendary quarterbacks to wear the green and gold.
The 17th round pick out of Alabama in 1956, Starr’s success in the NFL was unlikely. How was it that he was able to go from mediocre quarterback prospect to two-time Super Bowl MVP? Without a doubt the arrival of Lombardi brought success to not only the Packers franchise, but Starr himself. It goes without saying that the Hall of Fame coach brought a winning culture to Wisconsin, transforming the worst team in the league into a winning franchise. The jump from winning team to NFL Champions, however came in large part because of the improvement of Starr. In 1961, he led the Packers to an 11-3 win season behind his first campaign of double-digit touchdown passes. The season was capped off with an eye popping 37-0 win over the New York Giants to clinch the first of five titles for himself and his Hall of Fame coach. The 4-time Pro-Bowler’s strongest season came in 1966 when he was awarded first team All-Pro honors headlined by 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Not gaudy numbers by today’s metrics, but for the era it was as strong of a season the NFL had seen from a quarterback. To illustrate the impact he had in an era where the ground attack was significantly more prevalent, Starr’s completion percentage of 57.4 was the highest in NFL history at the point of his retirement. The 1977 Hall of Fame inductee is still the only quarterback to lead his team to three consecutive titles.
It cannot be overstated the impact that the Alabama native had on Green Bay and the state of Wisconsin. Despite his poor condition, Starr made his way to Lambeau Field in 2015 for Brett Favre’s jersey retirement ceremony. Riding in on a golf-cart it was clear how important it was for him to show his support for the Packer that followed his greatness. Lambeau has a new ghost to bless the historic stadium joining the likes of Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Ray Nitschke, and Reggie White. Beloved by all who were fortunate enough to come in contact with him, Starr passed away having left not only the Green Bay Packers, but the world a much better place. The 2019 season will certainly be played in his memory.
Riley Magnuson is a native of a native of northern Illinois and an Illinois State University alumni. He is an avid sports fan with a deep love for the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Blackhawks.