Legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr passed away Sunday morning at the age of 85.
The Hall of Famer was the face of the Packers franchise in the 1960s, winning five NFL Championships (1961, ’62, ’67, and ’68). A four-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro, Starr was also named MVP of the first two Super Bowls. The durable Starr played for 16 seasons from 1956 to 1971, was a five-time NFL passer rating leader, was named the league MVP in 1966, and posted a 9-1 postseason record as the Packers’ starting quarterback. Starr was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
After hanging up his cleats, Starr served as the Packers head coach from 1975 to 1983, replacing Dan Devine. Unfortunately, Starr’s tenure as the Packers was not nearly as successful as his playing career. In 1983, he was unceremoniously replaced by ex-teammate Forrest Gregg.
As news of Starr’s passing greeted the NFL community, tweets of condolence, remembrance, and admiration set the Twitterverse abuzz.
Rival quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, tweeted a personal video and added that “today is a sad day. Bart Starr was truly one of the greatest, both as a quarterback and as a man. He deserves so much of the credit for five Packers championships.”
Today is a sad day. Bart Starr was truly one of the greatest, both as a quarterback and as a man. He deserves so much of the credit for five @packers championships. Bart, you were a special player and man, and you will be greatly missed by all of us. @nfl @ProFootballHOF pic.twitter.com/AqbJCRWHSj
— Francis Tarkenton (@Fran_Tarkenton) May 26, 2019
Tweeted former teammate, Bill Curry, “Today we lost Bart Starr, an incomparable human being, friend of a lifetime, HOF teammate, and the most generous giver of himself I have ever known. Trying to describe him is hard-one had to be in his presence to grasp his grace-In his huddle to touch his dominance in winning.”
Today we lost Bart Starr, an incomparable human being, friend of a lifetime, HOF teammate, and the most generous giver of himself I have ever known. Trying to describe him is hard-one had to be in his presence to grasp his grace-In his huddle to touch his dominance in winning.
— Bill Curry (@coachbillcurry) May 27, 2019
Current Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers opted for Instagram instead to offer his respects by simply posting a photo of Starr in action. Rodgers added a simple heart emoticon to show his reaction and respect.
“Bart Starr was the most kind, thoughtful and classiest person you could ever know. I consider myself extremely lucky to have called him friend and to have been mentioned in the same breath. Deanna and I are praying for Cherry and the Starr family.” -Brett Favre
While Starr is best remembered for his abilities as a passer, his most memorable moment on the gridiron was a running play: his quarterback sneak in the Ice Bowl.
Trailing the Dallas Cowboys by three minutes in the 1967 NFL Championship game in subzero temperatures (minus-46 Fahrenheit) with under five minutes left in regulation, Starr marched his team 68 yards in 12 plays. Then with only 13 seconds remaining on the clock, Starr suggested a quarterback sneak to his legendary coach, Vince Lombardi.
“Run it!” Lombardi told his quarterback, “And let’s get the hell out of here.”
Starr did run it. Knifing into the end zone behind the blocks of guard Jerry Kramer and center Ken Bowman, the quarterback cemented a 21-17 Packers victory.
That play, or rather that drive, personifies both the professional football career and life of one of the NFL’s greatest.
Perhaps former President Richard Nixon summed it up best. “I think the best way that I can present Bart Starr to his friends is to say very simply that the sixties will be described as the decade in which football became the number one sport in America, in which the Packers were the number one team, and Bart Starr was proudly the number one Packer.”