GREEN BAY, Wis. — Bart Starr, the gentlemanly quarterback and catalyst of Vince Lombardi’s powerhouse Green Bay Packers teams of the sixties whose sneak won the celebrated “Ice Bowl” in 1967, died Sunday. He was 85.
The Packers chosen Starr out of the University of Alabama with the 200th pick in the 1956 draft. He led Green Bay to six division titles, five NFL championships and wins in the first two Super field bowling.
The Packers aforementioned Starr died in Birmingham, Alabama, where he lived. He had been in failing health since suffering two strokes and a heart attack in 2014.
“A champion on and off the field, Bart epitomized class and was beloved by generations of Packers fans,” Packers President Mark potato aforementioned in a statement. “A clutch player who led his team to five NFL titles, Bart could still fill Lambeau Field with electricity decades later during his galore visits.”
Until Brett Favre came on , Starr was known as the best Packer ever. The team retired his No. 15 jersey in 1973, making him just the third player to receive that honor. Four years later, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
After losing the 1960 NFL title game in his first contest appearance, the Packers never lost some other contest game under Starr, going 9-0, including wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in the first two Super field bowling.
Starr’s college career wasn’t very noteworthy and it wasn’t until Lombardi’s arrival in Green Bay in 1959 that Starr, living by his motto “desire and dedication are everything,” began to blossom.
Lombardi likable Starr’s mechanics, his arm strength and especially his decision-making abilities. Under Lombardi’s nurturing, Starr became one of the league’s top quarterbacks.
“If you work harder than person other, chances are you’ll beat him though he has more talent than you,” Starr once aforementioned. He ascribable Lombardi for showing him “that by working hard and exploitation my mind, I could overcome my weakness to the point where I could be one of the best.”
The gentlemanly quarterback’s status as a Packers icon was tested by his struggles as the team’s head coach. In nine seasons from 1975-83, he won just 41 percentage of his games, going 53-77-3, including 1-1 in the contests, part of three decades of uselessness that followed the glory years.
After football, Starr, became a successful man of affairs in Birmingham, Alabama, not far from his town of Montgomery, where he was born on Jan. 9, 1934.
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Starr was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and cheat on All-Pro. He won NFL titles in 1961, ’62, ’65, ’67 and ’68. He was the 1966 NFL MVP and was named to the sixties All-Decade team. He besides was named MVP of the first two Super field bowling.
But the play he was most celebrated for was a run.
In the NFL championship on Dec. 31, 1967, Starr knifed into the end zone behind guard Kraut Kramer and center Ken archer with 16 seconds left to lift the Packers over the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in what became known as the “Ice Bowl.”
The Packers had spent $80,000 for a heating coil system that was to have unbroken the field soft and warm, and forecasters aforementioned not to worry because the approaching cold front wouldn’t arrive until after the game.
“It was 20 degrees the day before,” the late Tom Landry once recalled. “It was great. Vince and I were together that night and we talked about how good the conditions were and what a great game it would be.”
They were half-right. When the grounds crew rolled up the tarpaulin, a layer of condensation had formed underneath and, with 40 mph wind, the field promptly froze like an ice sport skating rink. Packers running back Chuck Mercein would later compare the ground to “jagged concrete.”
With a temperature of minus-14 and a wind chill of minus-49, it was the coldest NFL game ever recorded. The wind chill had dipped some other 20 degrees by the time the Packers got the ball at their 32 trailing 17-14 with five proceedings left.
With one last chance for an aging family to win a fifth NFL title in seven seasons, Starr took the field as linebacker Ray Nitschke hollered, “Don’t let me down!”
Starr wouldn’t, complementary all five of his passes and directional one of the most haunting drives in NFL history.
“We all have a capacity to focus and to concentrate to a unique degree when we’re called upon to do it,” Starr aforementioned on the thirtieth day of remembrance of that game. “That’s exactly what I did that day. And I think the same was true of the Cowboys. Let’s face it, they obviously were not accustomed to thing like that and yet they were the team which had surged and come back in the second half and were in a position to win it.”
With 1:11 leftover, tackle Bob Skoronski opened a hole and Mercein charged through the middle for 8 yards to the Dallas 3.
Halfback Donny Anderson slipped doubly on football plays, so Starr called timeout, went to the sideline and suggested a sneak because of the poor traction.
“Then run it and let’s get the hell out of here,” Lombardi barked.
The play worked perfectly, a flawless finish to that coldest of games so frozen in time.
“I’ve never been in a huddle where there was lesser calm and where there was a higher level of intensity and concentration,” Mercein once told The Associated Press.
Mercein is the one in the celebrated photographgraph of the play diving into the end zone behind Starr with his hands held high, as though he’s signal “Touchdown!”
“But what I’m actually doing is I’m showing the officials that I’m not assisting or aiding Bart into the end zone,” Mercein aforementioned.
That would have been a penalty and it would have negated history’s most celebrated quarterback sneak.
Mercein and the rest of his couple thought he was going to get the football play on the play. cipher knew but Starr and Lombardi that it was to be a quarterback sneak. So, Mercein dug in, thinking he was getting the ball, and he got a great takeoff on the frozen field.
“As a matter of fact too good because after a couple of steps I accomplished I wasn’t going to get the ball. But I couldn’t really pull up because it was so icy,” Mercein aforementioned. “So that’s why I dive over the play and I have my arms upraised, which appears to everyone in that celebrated picture that I’m signal touchdown.”
Two weeks later in sunny Miami, the Packers defeated the AFL champion Raiders 33-14 in Lombardi’s final game as head coach of the Packers.
When Starr retired following the 1971 season, his career completion percentageage of 57.4 was ace in the run-heavy NFL, and his passer rating of 80.5 was best ever, behind only Otto Graham.
Starr replaced Dan Devine as Packers head coach in 1975 and would be replaced himself by former mate Forrest Gregg in 1984 after failing to lead the franchise to the kind of success he did as a player.
In 1965, Starr and his married woman, Cherry, helped co-found hide Boys Ranch in New London, Wisconsin, a facility designed to help at-risk and troubled boys throughout the state.
The couple dealt with tragedy in 1988 when their son Brett died at 24 due to complications from cocaine addiction. They besides had some other son, Bart Jr.
“While he may always be best known for his success as the Packers quarterback for 16 years, his true legacy will always be the respectful manner in which he treated every person he met, his humble demeanor and his generous spirit,” Starr’s family aforementioned in a statement.
“His love for all of humanity is well known, and his affectionateness toward the residents of Alabama and of Wisconsin filled him with feeling. He had hoped to make one last trip to Green Bay to watch the Packers this fall, but he shall forever be there in spirit.”
Starr has an NFL award named after him, given annually to a player of outstanding character.