Bart Starr doesn't rank near the top in talent, but no quarterback has
earned more respect during his career. He's the combined product of his
own dedication and the unique direction which he and his teammates
received during Vince Lombardi's years at Green Bay.
Starr became the winningest quarterback in pro football during
Lombardi's championship reign. Now, at 36, he has as much pride and
character as ever but his frequent trouble with lingering injuries has
become more and more a problem for him.
He missed 28 quarters of action in 1968, the first post-Lombardi season.
In '69, he missed 27 quarters. In 70, you had to wonder if the 15-year
veteran ever could play back to his old form again. After all, his old
coach was gone and so were many of his old teammates.
"Starr has gotten the utmost from his talent," one scout said. "Because
of his dedication, the people he was surrounded by and Lombard!, he's
done a great deal. But when they passed out the talent, they gave him
about 3-quarters of a tank. They filled him up on brains, though. He's
very bright. We may yet see him have some more good days simply because
he's Bart Starr."
A veteran corner back said, "When Starr is in good shape, he's in the
same class with Johnny Unitas. He does everything well, except
consistently throw the long ball. He's capable of doing it, but not as
consistently as Joe Namath or Sonny Jurgensen or Unitas. But he has
trouble shaking off injuries. He just doesn't heal as quickly as some
But he's always been extremely smart. "Starr," said one veteran
observer, "follows a game plan like it's a blueprint for a castle."
Said another star defensive back, "Starr's leadership ability carries
him more than his physical ability. I don't think he has the ability to
throw like some of the top guys. He'll throw more of the percentage
passes. But he's very good at finding weaknesses and then exploiting
Starr, 6-1 and 190, is only an average physical specimen who has done
extremely well with his tools. He was only a 17th round draft choice
when the Packers signed him out of Alabama, but when his big opportunity
was presented him by Lombardi in '60, he seized it and moved up quickly.
"Starr is a very disciplined quarterback," a scout said. "He's probably
the best of all of them fundamentally. He sets up quickly, reads keys
with the best and has a good quick delivery. He seldom throws a bad
"He always comes out to his right to set up unless it is a play-action
pass. He is not a notorious scrambler, but he will run rather than throw
the interception. He is very dedicated to his team and will work
"In Starr's case, however, he is respected by his opponents not only for
his ability but also as a person. He could be called Gentleman Bart."
Green Bay fans booed Starr when Detroit inflicted a 40-0 loss in their
NFL opener for 70. "After the game," said one of the Lions, "you'd have
thought Bart would have his head down. But he came into our locker room
and congratulated us and wished us well. What a class guy."
In his own way, Starr has left his mark.