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.