American Football Database
Bart Starr
File:Bart starr bw.jpg
Starr in 1960s
No. 15
Personal information
Born:(1934-01-09)January 9, 1934
Montgomery, Alabama
Died:May 26, 2019(2019-05-26) (aged 85)
Birmingham, Alabama
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:193 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High school:Sidney Lanier
(Montgomery, Alabama)
NFL Draft:1956 / Round: 17 / Pick: 200
Career history
As player:
* Green Bay Packers (19561971)
As coach:
* Green Bay Packers (1972) (QB)
Career highlights and awards
* 2× Super Bowl champion (I, II)
Career NFL statistics
Pass attempts:3,149
Pass completions:1,808
Passing yards:24,718
Passer rating:80.5
Player stats at

Bryan Bartlett Starr (January 9, 1934 – May 26, 2019) was a professional American football quarterback and coach. Starr played college football at the University of Alabama, and was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 17th round of the 1956 NFL draft, where he played for them until 1971. Starr was the only quarterback in NFL history to lead a team to three consecutive league championships (19651967). Starr led his team to victories in the first two Super Bowls: I and II.[1] As the Packers' head coach, he was less successful, compiling a 52–76–3 (.408) record from 1975 through 1983.

Starr was named the Most Valuable Player of the first two Super Bowls[1] and during his career earned four Pro Bowl selections. He won the league MVP award in 1966.[2] He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Packers Hall of Fame in 1977. Starr has the highest postseason passer rating (104.8)[3] of any quarterback in NFL history and a postseason record of 9–1.[1] His career completion percentage of 57.4 was an NFL best when he retired in 1972.[4] Starr also held the Packers' franchise record for games played (196) for 32 years, through the 2003 season.[4]

Early life

Starr was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama to parents Benjamin Bryan Starr (1910–1985), a labor foreman with the state highway department,[5] and Lula (Tucker) Starr (1916–1995).[6][7] Starr's early life was marked by hardships; shortly after the start of World War II, his father's reserve unit was activated and in 1942 he was deployed to the Pacific Theater.[8] He was first in the U.S. Army but transferred to the U.S. Air Force[1] for his military career.[9]

Starr had a younger brother, Hilton E. "Bubba" Starr.[10] In 1946, Bubba stepped on a dog bone while playing in the yard and three days later died of tetanus.[11][12] Starr's relationship with his father deteriorated after Hilton's death.[13] He was an introverted child who rarely showed his emotions and his father pushed Starr to develop more of a mean streak.[14]

Starr attended Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery,[15] and tried out for the football team in his sophomore year, but decided to quit after two weeks. His father gave him the option of playing football or working in the family garden; Starr chose to return to the football field.[16]

In his junior year, the starting quarterback broke his leg and Starr became the starter.[17] He led Lanier to an undefeated season. In his senior season, Starr was named all-state and All-American, and received college scholarship offers from universities across the country.[18] He seriously considered the University of Kentucky, coached by Bear Bryant.[19] Starr's high school sweetheart, Cherry Louise Morton, was planning to attend Auburn and Starr wished to attend a college close to her.[20][21] Starr changed his mind and committed to the University of Alabama.[22]

College career

During Starr’s freshman year at Alabama, the Southeastern Conference allowed freshmen to play varsity football.[23] Starr did not start for Alabama as a freshman, but he did play enough minutes to earn a varsity letter. His high point of the season came in quarterback relief in the Orange Bowl, when he completed 8 of 12 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.[24]

Starr entered his sophomore year as Alabama's starting quarterback, safety and punter. His punting average of 41.4 yards per kick ranked second in the nation in 1953, behind Zeke Bratkowski.[25] Alabama recorded a 6–2–3 record and lost in the Cotton Bowl to Rice by a score of 28–6. Starr completed 59 of 119 passes for 870 yards, with eight touchdowns that season.

In May 1954, Starr eloped with Cherry Morton.[1] The couple chose to keep their marriage a secret. Colleges often revoked the scholarships of married athletes in the 1950s, believing their focus should remain on sports.[26] Cherry remained in Jackson, Alabama, while Starr returned to the University of Alabama.[26]

That summer, Starr suffered a severe back injury during a hazing incident for his initiation into the A Club. He covered up the cause by fabricating a story about being hurt while punting a football.[27] He rarely played during his junior year due to the injury. The back injury disqualified him later from military service, and would occasionally bother him the rest of his football career. After a disappointing season of 4–5–2, Red Drew was replaced by J.B. Whitworth as coach of Alabama.[citation needed]

Whitworth conducted a youth movement at Alabama for the 1955 season and only two seniors started for the team. While supposedly healed from the back injury, Starr rarely played in his senior season either. Starr played briefly in the Blue–Gray bowl of 1955.[citation needed]

Johnny Dee, the basketball coach at Alabama, was a friend of Jack Vainisi, the personnel director of the Green Bay Packers. Dee recommended Starr as a prospect to Vainisi.[28] The Packers were convinced that Starr had the ability to succeed in the NFL and would learn quickly.[29] In the 17th round of the 1956 NFL Draft, Starr was selected by the Packers, with the 200th overall pick.[30][31]

Starr spent the summer of 1956 living with his in-laws and throwing footballs through a tire in their backyard in order to prepare for his rookie season.[32] The Packers offered $6,500 (equal to $52,527 today) to sign Starr and he accepted, with the added condition, requested by Starr, that he receive $1,000 up front.[33]

Packers quarterback

File:Vince lombardi bart starr.jpg

Starr with Packers head coach Vince Lombardi in the 1960s.

Starr began as a backup to Tobin Rote in 1956 and split time with Babe Parilli until 1959, Vince Lombardi's first year as Packers coach. In that season, Lombardi pulled starter Lamar McHan in favor of Starr, and he held the starting job henceforth. The following season, the Packers advanced to the 1960 NFL Championship Game, but lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Lombardi's only post-season loss as a head coach. The Packers returned to the title game and won in 1961 and 1962, both over the New York Giants. In 1966, Starr was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press (AP), the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) and UPI.[citation needed]

Starr was responsible for calling plays (then the norm);[34] one of his most famous was in the Ice Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys in an NFL championship game 1967. Consulting with Lombardi on the sideline, Starr suggested a basic wedge play ― with a twist. Instead of handing off to Chuck Mercein as the play dictated (and unbeknownst to his teammates), Starr suggested running it in himself. Having enough of the bitter cold weather, coach Lombardi said, “Then do it, and let's get the hell out of here!" Starr almost broke down in laughter as he ran back to the huddle, but held his composure. The quarterback sneak play worked and the Packers went on to beat the Cowboys 21-17.[1]

At the Orange Bowl in Miami, the Packers defeated the AFL champion Oakland Raiders 33–14 in Super Bowl II, Lombardi's final game as head coach of the Packers, who were favored by 13½ points.[citation needed]

The 1967 Packers remain the only team to win a third consecutive NFL title since the playoff system was instituted in 1933. Starr's playing career ended with the 1971 season, having posted the second best career passer rating of 80.5 (First at the time was Otto Graham with 86.6). He had surgeries on his long-ailing throwing arm in July and August 1971,[35][36][37][38] and saw limited action in his last season. Starr had originally planned to retire after the second Super Bowl win in January 1968, but without a clear successor and a new head coach, he stayed on; by February 1972 he was set for one last year.[39] He participated in the team's spring camp in Arizona in April,[40][41] then announced his retirement in July at age 38.[42][43]

Packers coach

Immediately following his retirement as a player, Starr served as the Packers' quarterbacks coach and called plays in 1972 under head coach Dan Devine, when the Packers won the NFC Central division title at 10–4 with Scott Hunter under center. He pursued business interests and was then a broadcaster for CBS for two seasons. When Devine left for Notre Dame after the 1974 season, Starr was hired as head coach of the Packers on Christmas Eve.[44][45][46] Upon taking the job, he recognized the long odds of a Hall of Fame player becoming a successful head coach.[47] Initially given a three-year contract,[45] he led the Packers for nine years, the first five as his own general manager.[citation needed]

His regular season record was a disappointing 52–76–2 (.408), with a playoff record of 1–1. Posting a 5–3–1 record in the strike-shortened season of 1982, Starr's Packers made their first playoff appearance in ten years (and their last for another 11 years). They defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 41–16 in the expanded wild card round of 16 teams on January 8, 1983, then lost to the Dallas Cowboys 37–26 in the divisional round the following week. He tallied only three other non-losing seasons as Packers coach. After a disappointing 8–8 finish the following year, Starr was dismissed in favor of his former teammate Forrest Gregg, who previously led the Cincinnati Bengals to Super Bowl XVI in the 1981 season and hadcoached the Cleveland Browns prior to that.[citation needed]

On January 13, 1984, Starr was named the head coach of the Arizona Firebirds, a proposed expansion team for the NFL. The NFL never granted the would-be ownership group of the Firebirds a team.[48][49]


File:Packers retired number 15.svg

Starr's number was retired by the Packers in 1973

Starr was voted to the NFL Pro Bowl four times. He was voted NFL Most Valuable Player by both AP and UPI in 1966, and was chosen Super Bowl MVP in 1966 and 1967. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.[citation needed]

He is one of six Green Bay Packers to have had his number (15) retired by the team. The others are Tony Canadeo (3), Don Hutson (14), Ray Nitschke (66), Reggie White (92), and Brett Favre (4).[50]

On October 17, 1970, President Richard Nixon spoke at a testimonial reception honoring Bart Starr in the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena in Green Bay, Wisconsin. "We honor him as a very great practitioner of his profession, the proud profession of professional football," Nixon said. "And as we honor him for that, we honor him not only for his technical skill but, as I've indicated, also for something that is just as important: his leadership qualities, his character, his moral fiber ... But 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."[51]

Starr was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981.

Starr has an NFL award named after him. The Bart Starr Award is given annually, by a panel of judges, to an NFL player of outstanding character.[citation needed]

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
GB 1975 4 10 0 .286 3rd in NFC Central
GB 1976 5 9 0 .357 4th in NFC Central - - -
GB 1977 4 10 0 .286 4th in NFC Central - - -
GB 1978 8 7 1 .531 2nd in NFC Central - - -
GB 1979 5 11 0 .313 4th in NFC Central - - -
GB 1980 5 10 1 .344 5th in NFC Central - - -
GB 1981 8 8 0 .500 2nd in NFC Central - - -
GB 1982 5 3 1 .611 3rd in NFC 1 1 .500 Defeated St. Louis Cardinals in first round.
Lost to Dallas Cowboys in second round.
GB 1983 8 8 0 .500 2nd in NFC Central - - -
Total 52 76 3 .408 1 1 .500 [citation needed]

Player statistics

Regular season

Year Passing Rushing
Att Comp Yds TD Int RTG Comp.
Att Yds Avg TD
1956 44 24 325 2 3 65.1 54.5 5 35 7.0 0
1957 215 117 1,489 8 10 69.3 54.4 31 98 3.1 3
1958 157 78 875 3 12 41.2 49.7 25 113 4.5 1
1959 134 70 972 6 7 69.0 52.2 16 83 5.2 0
1960 172 98 1,358 4 8 70.8 57.0 7 12 1.7 0
1961 295 172 2,418 16 16 80.3 58.3 12 56 4.7 1
1962 285 178 2,438 12 9 90.7 62.5 21 72 3.4 1
1963 244 132 1,855 15 10 82.3 54.1 13 116 8.9 0
1964 272 163 2,144 15 4 97.1 59.9 24 165 6.9 3
1965 251 140 2,055 16 9 89.0 55.8 18 169 9.4 1
1966 251 166 2,257 14 3 108.3 66.1 21 104 5.0 2
1967 210 115 1,823 9 17 64.4 54.8 21 90 4.3 0
1968 171 109 1,617 15 8 104.3 63.7 11 62 5.6 1
1969 148 92 1,161 9 6 89.9 62.2 7 60 8.6 4
1970 255 140 1,645 8 13 63.9 54.9 12 62 5.2 1
1971 45 24 286 0 3 45.2 53.3 3 11 3.7 1
Total 3,149 1,808 24,718 152 138 80.5 57.4 247 1,308 5.3 15

Personal life

Starr and his wife Cherry were married for more than sixty years.[52] They had two sons, of whom the younger Bret is deceased (1988, age 24, drug overdose),[53][54][1] and three granddaughters. He was a Christian.[55][56][57]

In 1965, Starr and his wife Cherry helped co-found Rawhide Boys Ranch in New London, Wisconsin, a facility designed to help at-risk and troubled boys throughout the state of Wisconsin.[1] Starr even donated the Corvette he received as MVP of Super Bowl II to help Rawhide during their early years.[58] He and Cherry continued to be affiliated with Rawhide Boys Ranch as of 2017.[citation needed]

In 1971, Starr and his wife Cherry helped start the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation raising funds for cancer research and care in honor of the his late coach, Vince Lombardi. They were active at all their events throughout the years. He and Cherry launched the Starr Children's Fund within the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation to continue their legacy of work supporting pediatric cancer research and care.

During his latter years, Starr suffered a number of physical ailments, including ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, a mild heart attack, seizures, and a broken hip.[59][60] In June 2015, Starr's family reported that he was undergoing stem-cell therapy in a clinical trial.[61] He managed to attend a ceremony at Lambeau Field on November 26, 2015 retiring QB Brett Favre's jersey number,[62] and a fall 2017 reunion of the Ice Bowl Packers.[1] At Super Bowl 50 in February 2016, the NFL held a pregame ceremony honoring the MVPs of all 49 Super Bowls. Although he wished to attend, Starr was not well enough to travel to the game and instead sent a videotaped greeting from home.[63]

Starr died at the age of 85 on Sunday, May 26, 2019 in Birmingham, Alabama after a period of failing health due to the stroke he had suffered earlier in 2014.[64][1][65]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Layden, Tim (May 26, 2019). "Bart Starr: The Self-Made QB Who Led Lombardi’s Packers". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  2. Profootball Hall of fame – Bart Starr
  3. "NFL Passer Rating Career Playoffs Leaders".
  4. 4.0 4.1
  6. Christopulos, Mike (December 25, 1974). "Open door policy pleases Bart's dad". Milwaukee Sentinel: p. 2, part 2.
  8. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg. 15
  9. Mooney, Loren (October 12, 1998). "Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers Legend". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  10. Butterball 2004 pg. 19–20
  11. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 17
  12. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 21
  13. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 23
  14. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 18
  15. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 24–25
  16. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 21
  17. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 27–28
  18. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 32
  19. Bart Starr by John Delaney, pg 32
  20. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 25
  21. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 34–35
  22. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 35–36
  23. Bart Starr, by John Devaney, pg. 34
  24. Bart Starr, by John Devaney, pg. 36
  25. Bart Starr, by John Devaney, pg. 38
  26. 26.0 26.1 Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 26
  27. Goodman, Joseph (February 29, 2016). "NFL legend Bart Starr was victim of 'brutal' secret Alabama hazing".
  28. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 29
  29. Bart Starr, by John Devaney, pg. 40
  30. "Bart Starr at". Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Retrieved December 12, 2007.
  31. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 47–48
  32. Bart Starr, by John Devaney, pg. 42
  33. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 49–50
  34. "Bart Starr is Clearly Underrated". Bleacher Report. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  35. Lea, Bud (July 24, 1971). "Starr decides on surgery; will be on shelf 12 weeks". Milwaukee Sentinel: p. 1, part 2.
  36. Lea, Bud (July 29, 1971). "Bart's surgery is 'routine'". Milwaukee Sentinel: p. 1, part 2.
  37. "2nd Starr operation". Milwaukee Sentinel. wire services: p. 1, part 2. August 14, 1971.
  38. "Bart Starr home after 2nd surgery". Florence Times. Associated Press (Alabama): p. 14. August 19, 1971.
  39. "Green Bay's Bart Starr to retire at end of season; surgery aided shoulder". Gettysburg Times. Associated Press (Pennsylvania): p. 9. February 1, 1972.
  40. Lea, Bud (April 8, 1972). "Packers shaky, but Starr shines". Milwaukee Sentinel: p. 1, part 2.
  41. "Starr throws with 'zing' in workout". Milwaukee Journal: p. 16. April 8, 1972.
  42. "Starr, 38, quits as Packer player". Milwaukee Journal: p. 1, part 1. July 21, 1972.
  43. "Injuries finally end Bart Starr's career". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press (Oregon): p. 4B. July 22, 1972.
  44. Lea, Bud; Hofmann, Dave (December 24, 1974). "Starr to be named today". Milwaukee Sentinel: p. 1, part 2.
  45. 45.0 45.1 Kupper, Mike (December 24, 1974). "Starr, Packers, make it official". Milwaukee Journal: p. 1, part 1.
  46. Hofmann, Dale (December 25, 1974). "Starr pledges fresh start". Milwaukee Sentinel: p. 1, part 2.
  47. Anderson, Dave (December 27, 1974). "Did Bart make mistake?". Spokesman-Review. (New York Times) (Spokane, Washington): p. 20.
  48. "Bart Starr a coach again - but without a team". Tuscaloosa News: p. 11. January 14, 1984.
  49. "The Arizona Firebirds, a group seeking to bring a NFL franchise". United Press International. January 13, 1984. p. 1.
  50. "Green Bay, "Retired Numbers"". Archived from the original on April 4, 2008. Retrieved September 22, 2008.
  51. "Richard Nixon: Remarks at a Testimonial Reception in Honor of Green Bay Packers Quarterback Bart Starr.". UC Santa Barbara. October 17, 1970.
  52. Peterson, Eric (September 21, 2014). "Special gift for Rawhide Ranch". Fox 11.
  53. Lea, Bud; Stephenson, Crocker (July 8, 1988). "Bart Starr finds son, 24, dead". Milwaukee Sentinel: p. 1, part 1.
  54. Faust, Pete; Christl, Cliff (July 8, 1988). "Foul play not suspected in death of Bart Starr's son". Milwaukee Journal: p. 1A.
  55. "ambassadors: Bart Star [sic"]. Heart of a Lion. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
  56. "Packers legend Bart Starr and wife, Cherry retiring from Lombardi Foundation". Fox 6. April 30, 2014.
  57. "Bart Starr". Beyond the Ultimate.
  58. Malcore, Paul. "The Legened of Bart Starr". Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  59. Demovsky, Rob (October 5, 2014). "Bart Starr also suffered heart attack". ESPN.
  60. Eilerson, Nick (January 9, 2016). "Packers legend Bart Starr recovering from broken hip after slew of health problems". The Washington Post.
  61. Demovsky, Rob (June 17, 2015). "Packers great Bart Starr undergoing stem cell treatment". ESPN.
  62. "Brett Favre shares special moment with Bart Starr at Lambeau Field". USA Today. November 26, 2015.
  63. "Bart Starr not well enough to attend Super Bowl celebration". USA Today. February 3, 2016.
  64. "Packers legend Bart Starr dies at 85". May 26, 2019.
  65. "Legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr dies at 85". CNN. May 26, 2019.
  • Claerbaut, David (2004), Bart Starr: When Leadership Mattered, Lanham, MD.:Taylor Trade Publishing ISBN 1-58979-117-7

External links