American Football Wiki
Bart Starr
Bart Starr
Green Bay Packers QB Bart Starr in 1966
Personal Information
Born (1934-01-09)January 9, 1934
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)Weight: 197 lb (89 kg)
Died May 26, 2019(2019-05-26) (aged 85)
Career information
Year(s) 19561971
NFL Draft 1956 / Round: 17 / Pick: 199
College Alabama
Professional teams
Career stats
Pass attempts/Pass completions/Comp. Pct (%) 3,149/1,808/57.4 %
Passing yards/Passer rating 24,718/80.5 RTG
TDINT 152 TDs–138 INTs
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

Bryan Bartlett "Bart" Starr (January 9, 1934-May 26, 2019) was a former professional American football player and coach. Wearing #15, he was the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers from 1956 to 1971 and also a head coach from 1975 to 1983, compiling a record of 52–76–3, only coaching them to a playoff berth in the strike shortened 1982 NFL season.

He was named the Most Valuable Player of the first two Super Bowls and earned four Pro Bowl selections. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1977. He won the league MVP award in 1966.[1]

Starr has the second-highest playoff passer rating (104.80, behind current Packer Aaron Rodgers' 112.6) [2] of any quarterback in NFL history and a playoff record of 9–1. Starr's career completion percentage of 57.4 was an NFL best when he retired in 1972.[3] Starr also held the Packers' franchise record for games-played (196) for 32 years, through the 2003 season.[3]

Starr played at the University of Alabama from 1952 to 1956 and was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 17th round of the 1956 draft (199th overall).

Early life[]

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.[4] His was first in the Army but transferred to the Air Force for his military career.[5]

Starr had a younger brother, Hilton (Bubba).[6] In 1947, Bubba stepped on a dog bone while playing in the yard and passed away of tetanus three days later.[7][8] Starr’s relationship with his father deteriorated after Hilton’s passing.[9] He was an introverted child who rarely showed his emotions and his father pushed to develop more of a mean streak.[10]

Starr attended Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery, Alabama.[11] He 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.[12]

In his junior year, the starting quarterback broke his leg and Starr became the starter.[13] 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.[14] He seriously considered the University of Kentucky, coached by Bear Bryant.[15] Starr's high school sweetheart, Cherry Louise Morton, was planning to attend Auburn and Starr wished to attend a college close to her.[16][17] Starr changed his mind and committed to the University of Alabama.[18]

College career (1952–1956)[]

As the Korean War was fought during Starr’s freshman year, the SEC conference – which Alabama was a part of – allowed freshman to play varsity ball.[19] Starr did not start for Alabama his freshman year, but did play enough minutes to earn a varsity letter. His high point of the season was in the Orange Bowl, where in quarterback relief he completed eight of 12 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.[20]

Bart Starr entered his sophomore year as Alabama’s starting quarterback and punter. He also played starting safety. His punting average of 41.4 yards per kick ranked second in the nation in 1953 behind Zeke Bratkowski.[21] Alabama had a 6–2–3 record and lost in the Cotton Bowl to Rice by the score of 28–3. Starr completed 59 out of 119 passes for 870 yards, with eight touchdowns that season.

In May, 1954, Starr eloped with Cherry Morton. The couple choose to keep their marriage a secret. Colleges often revoked the scholarships of married athletes in the 1950s, believing their focus should remain on sports.[22] Cherry remained in Jackson, Alabama when Starr returned to the University of Alabama.[22]

That summer, Starr suffered a severe back sprain while punting a football. He barely played his junior year due to the injury. The back sprain 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.

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

Johnny Dees, the basketball coach at Alabama, was a friend of Jack Vainisi, the personal director of the Green Bay Packers. Dees recommended Starr as a prospect to Vainisi.[23] The Packers were under the impression that Starr was a Phi Beta Kappa and would learn quickly.[24] In the 17th round of the 1956 draft, the Green Bay Packers made Starr the 199th player selected.[25][26]

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.[27] The Packers offered $6,500 to sign Starr and he accepted, with the added condition, by Starr, that he receive $1,000 up front.[28]

Packers quarterback[]

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, 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.

Starr was responsible for calling plays when he was quarterback, as was the norm at the time. One of his most famous play calls was in the Ice Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL championship game on the final day of 1967. 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.

The 1967 Packers were the last team to win three consecutive NFL titles. Starr's playing career ended at the conclusion of the 1971 season, and at the time had the second best career passer rating at 80.5. (First at the time was Otto Graham at 86.6)

In 1965, Starr and his wife Cherry helped co-found Rawhide Boys Ranch in New London, a facility designed to help at-risk and troubled boys throughout the state of Wisconsin, and continue to be affiliated with it.

Packers coach[]

Immediately after his retirement as a player, he served as an assistant coach (quarterbacks) in 1972 under Dan Devine, when the Packers won the NFC Central division title at 10–4 with Scott Hunter under center. He 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. 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. 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 and coached the Cleveland Browns before that.


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 NFL Hall of Fame in 1977.

He is one of five Green Bay Packers to have his number (15) retired by the team. The others are Tony Canadeo (3), Don Hutson (14), Ray Nitschke (66), and Reggie White (92).[29] Of the five, only Starr is still living.

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. Drew Brees was the recipient of the 2011 award, presented in Dallas, Texas.[30]

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.[31] Starr even donated the Corvette he received as MVP of Super Bowl II to help Rawhide during their early years.[32] He and Cherry continued to be affiliated with Rawhide Boys Ranch as of 2017.

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.

Later years/Death[]

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.[33][34] In June 2015, Starr's family reported that he was undergoing stem-cell therapy in a clinical trial.[35] He managed to attend a ceremony at Lambeau Field on November 26, 2015 retiring QB Brett Favre's jersey number,[36] and a fall 2017 reunion of the Ice Bowl Packers.[31] 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.[37]

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.[38][31][39]

Head coaching record[]

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost 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 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

Player statistics[]

Regular season[]

Year Passing Rushing
Att Comp Yds TD Int Att Yds Avg TD
1956 44 24 325 2 3 5 35 7.0 0
1957 215 117 1,489 8 10 31 98 3.1 3
1958 157 78 875 3 12 25 113 4.5 1
1959 134 70 972 6 7 16 83 5.2 0
1960 172 98 1,358 4 8 7 12 1.7 0
1961 295 172 2,418 16 16 12 56 4.7 1
1962 285 178 2,438 12 9 21 72 3.4 1
1963 244 132 1,855 15 10 13 116 8.9 0
1964 272 163 2,144 15 4 24 165 6.9 3
1965 251 140 2,055 16 9 18 169 9.4 1
1966 251 166 2,257 14 3 21 104 5.0 2
1967 210 115 1,823 9 17 21 90 4.3 0
1968 171 109 1,617 15 8 11 62 5.6 1
1969 148 92 1,161 9 6 7 60 8.6 4
1970 255 140 1,645 8 13 12 62 5.2 1
1971 45 24 286 0 3 3 11 3.7 1
Total 3,149 1,808 24,718 152 138 247 1,308 5.3 15


  1. Profootball Hall of fame – Bart Starr
  3. 3.0 3.1
  4. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg. 15
  5. Mooney, Loren (1998-10-12). Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers Legend. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved on 2011-11-08.
  6. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 19–20
  7. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 17
  8. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 21
  9. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 23
  10. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 18
  11. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 24–25
  12. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 21
  13. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 27–28
  14. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 32
  15. Bart Starr by John Devaney, pg 32
  16. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 25
  17. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 34–35
  18. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 35–36
  19. Bart Starr, by John Devaney, pg. 34
  20. Bart Starr, by John Devaney, pg. 36
  21. Bart Starr, by John Devaney, pg. 38
  22. 22.0 22.1 Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 26
  23. Starr, by Bart Starr, pg 29
  24. Bart Starr, by John Devaney, pg. 40
  25. Bart Starr at Retrieved on 2007-12-12.
  26. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 47–48
  27. Bart Starr, by John Devaney, pg. 42
  28. Claerbaut 2004 pg. 49–50
  29. Green Bay, "Retired Numbers". Archived from the original on 2008-04-04. Retrieved on 2008-09-22.
  30. Bart Starr Award. Retrieved on 2008-09-22.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named SIobit
  32. The Legened of Bart Starr. Retrieved on February 14, 2017.
  33. Demovsky, Rob (October 5, 2014). Bart Starr also suffered heart attack. ESPN.
  34. Eilerson, Nick (January 9, 2016). Packers legend Bart Starr recovering from broken hip after slew of health problems. The Washington Post.
  35. Packers great Bart Starr undergoing stem cell treatment. ESPN (June 17, 2015).
  36. Brett Favre shares special moment with Bart Starr at Lambeau Field. USA Today (November 26, 2015).
  37. Bart Starr not well enough to attend Super Bowl celebration. USA Today (February 3, 2016).
  38. Packers legend Bart Starr dies at 85. (May 26, 2019).
  39. 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 Special:BookSources/1589791177|1-58979-117-7

See also[]

External links[]