Sunday, May 26, 2019

RIP Bart Starr

By John Turney
Credit: Merv Corning
Bart Starr passed away today. He was 85. His health had been ailing since 2014 according to the Green Bay Packers who also report he suffered two strokes and a heart attack in September that year.

Starr is survived by his wife, Cherry, and his eldest son, Bart Jr. His youngest son Bret preceded him in death.

Starr played for the Packers from 1956 to 1971 and was the head coach for the Packers from 1965-83.

He was the NFL consensus MVP in 1966 and was the starting quarterback on five NFL championships, including two Super Bowls. He also is credited with four passing titles. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977, in his first year of eligibility.

He was First-team All-Pro once and Second-team All-Pro three times and voted to four Pro Bowls. His winning percentage as a starting QB was 62% in the regular season and he was 9-1 in the postseason.

He was pro football's most accurate passer in the 1960s, the highest rated according to the NFL's passer rating system, the winningest, and had the second lowest interception percentage.

In the early 1970s, the Pro Football Hall of Fame had a committee, led by Don Smith the Hall of Fame director, to come up with a passer rating system that incorporated the major passing statistics. That came up with the current passer rating system.

Prior to that, the NFL had used various ways to declare the NFL's top passer. That had used inverse rankings, giving points to where a passer ranked in four major categories and the lowest total was the top passer. The used average gain, they used completion percentage. It was a mess.

So, the passer rating began in 1973 and then quarterbacks of the past were grandfathered in and retroactively called the NFL's passing leader. So, some players who may have passed away lost the passing titles they thought they won and others gained titles they didn't know they had.

Bart Starr's place in this is as follows:  The inventors of the passer rating wanted to make sure that players like Bob Griese and Bart Starr, who played on run dominant teams had a way to not be left out of being passing champions. So, Smith told us, in the mid-1990s, "It's a passing statistic" not a passer rating.

"We tried to make completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage were all represented in the formula", Smith continued.

What was happening is that downfield throwers were getting credit for the number of touchdowns they threw, so that is why touchdown percentage was used in the formula, not gross touchdown passes as had been used in the 'inverse ranking' method previously used.

This way the Starrs, the Greises, etc. could be passing champions even if they threw maybe 14 or 17 touchdowns and a Namath or Jurgensen threw 20 or 24.

So that is one esoteric mark Starr left on football.

Another one is 'The Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award' which was created to honor the NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community.

It is to go to an individual, who like Starr, "was of impeccable character who has served his family and community faithfully through the years and is a role model for athletes and business people alike".

Starr was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on Jan. 9, 1934. He attended college at the University of Alabama. He led the school to the SEC championship as a sophomore, but injuries hampered his later seasons there. The Packers drafted him in the 17th round in 1956.


  1. he was a great leader of a great team....and I'm an old-school Baltimore Colts orphan....RIP will be missed

  2. Starr endured 5 long years from 1954-1958 in which his teams went 12-42-3. I believe he was slowly getting better from a bad back injury. It's a testament to his character that he survived to become an icon in the NFL.

    1. Starr was a rookie in 1956.....3 bad years before Lombardi, not 5