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A football legend was lost today with the passing of former Packers quarterback Bart Starr. The Hall of Famer didn’t play for Minnesota, but former Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton says Starr was one of the greats. The late Green Bay quarterback may even have a lesson for Kirk Cousins.

Tarkenton spent several years playing against Starr and the Green Bay Packers during the 1960’s and 70’s. They may have been competitors on the gridiron, but there was a mutual respect between the two signal-callers. Fran was as devastated as anyone about the passing of Starr. “This is a very sad day,” he said. “Bart Starr is the greatest human being ever to play in the National Football League.”

Years have passed and football has evolved since Starr last put on a helmet. The definition of fame and fortune was certainly different back then. When Starr won back to back Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967, he was earning $100,000 per year. Today that would equate to about $765,000, which falls far short of the monstrous deals quarterbacks currently receive. This year, the highest paid player will likely be Russell Wilson at $35,000,000. I’m all for players maximizing their earning potential, but I respect Starr for playing for less — especially in a time where there was greater risk of a career ending injury.

While Starr didn’t set a gaudy standard for how much franchise players should earn, he did set a more important standard off the gridiron. As a player, head coach, and member of the community, Bart is remembered as being humble and kind. Troy Aikman remarked on Twitter, “Bart Starr was a true gentleman and one of the kindest people I knew,” said Aikman. “I had elbow surgery following our ‘95 Superbowl in Birmingham and Bart made a visit to the hospital. To this day, not sure how he even knew I was there.”

On the field, Bart’s personal stats speak for themselves and include 24,718 career passing yards. His success was undoubtedly due in large part to head coach Vince Lombardi. The great coach instilled in Starr that “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”

Starr had Lombardi, and Cousins has Zimmer and Kubiak. If Kirk wants to prove his haters wrong by winning a championship, he should take a lesson from Starr’s playbook and lean more on his coaching staff and teammates. Leading a team to the Super Bowl won’t be easy, and Cousins can’t do it alone. He has two respected veteran coaches and a talented roster he can rely on. With Zimmer and Kubiak’s guidance, I think Cousins can become a starr.

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    • #49150
      Purple Reign NewsReid Johnson,
      Rank: Newbie

        A football legend was lost today with the passing of former Packers quarterback Bart Starr. The Hall of Famer didn’t play for Minnesota, but fo
      [See the full post at: Cousins Should Take a Lesson From the Late Bart Starr]

    • #49151
      RogerdierRoger Dier
      Rank: Newbie

      Hi Reid,

      Good story. I’m going to speak to your point later in my comments.

      There’s a myth that is half-true among NFL fans that Bart Starr was Lombardi’s robot, and that all of his success was due to Lombardi. Starr would have been the first to tell you without Lombardi, where Starr ended up in life would not have been possible. In May 1970, while he was the new GM and head coach in Washington and before he became sick, before he became sick, Lombardi stopped in Green Bay for a few days to see old friends. He stopped by the Starr home, and after making small talk, Lombardi told Bart and Cherry Starr their home was beautiful. Cherry said, “Everything we have is because of you.” Lombardi started crying, stood up, hugged Bart and Cherry, and left.

      That’s a true story. Bart Starr was more than a corporate quarterback, game manager or robot. He was an in-game offensive coordinator, calling his own plays as he played, feeling the tempo and nuances of the game, all the while taking far more physical abuse than quarterbacks do today. Starr was the most successful on-the-field gambler in NFL history. Third-and-short and defenses had zero idea what Starr would do with the ball. If they played the run, he’d pick up the first down by hitting tight ends of his era, like Ron Kramer, Bill Anderson, and Marv Fleming. Or he’d go long to Carroll Dale, Max McGee or Boyd Dowler. Starr quarterbacked the Packers to five NFL championships in seven years. Five in seven. Think about that kind of dominance. Starr was league MVP twice, he was Super Bowl MVP twice, and for all the accolades and empty laurels thrown at modern quarterbacks, Starr has both the highest playoff winning percentage and highest playoff quarterback rating of any NFL quarterback who ever lived. That was all Starr, not Lombardi.

      When the Packers huddled up on Dec. 31, 1967 with 4:52 left to play and 68 yards away from beating the Dallas Cowboys for their third consecutive NFL championship, it was a great place for the Packers dynasty to die. It was 16 degrees below zero, and the wind chill was -49. Dallas’ “Doomsday Defense” had limited the Packers to 20 net yards in the second half, and three first downs, two by penalty. Dallas had sacked Starr nine times as the Packers huddled.

      Their march became legendary. Starr completed four passes in their final drive, bringing the team back from a 2nd-and-19 near midfield with two calm, pressure-packed tosses to Donny Anderson. Then he hit Chuck Mercein, a guy who was out of football in November, for 19 yards to the Dallas 11. Tom Landry called that pitch-and-catch-and-run the biggest play of the drive. First and goal on the 11, Starr called a play called “54 Give,” calculating that the great Dallas tackle Bob Lilly would follow Packers guard Gale Gillingham down the line, leaving a hole for the amped up Mercein. The Yale graduate blew through the hole down to the three. Starr said it was the best call of his career.

      Three plays later, Starr scored, taking a gamble that he had the best footing on the field. Thanks to Ken Bowman and Jerry Kramer, who teamed up to block Dallas tackle Jethro Pugh, Bart Starr led the Packers on an epic drive for the ages, and into legend.

      Regarding Curt Cousins, he shouldn’t try to be Bart Starr, or anyone else. As a matter of fact, everyone else is already taken. Cousins should be himself and only himself. He’s got the skills, and has the maturity to accept and learn from his coaching. I don’t think that’s a problem, though you implied that it is.

      Thank you for reading. Again, congratulations on your story.

      If you want to read more about Bart Starr, here’s a link:

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