A Quarterback Legacy

The Green Bay Packers have been blessed with some of best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL. Maggie reflects on the trio of Starr. Favre. and Rodgers. 

On June 16 I will be 26-years-old. I was born in 1993. The Green Bay Packers have had a Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm my entire life. There are pictures of me watching Super Bowl XXXI in a Brett Favre jersey.

The Packers won Super Bowl XLV with Aaron Rodgers when I was 17. In my lifetime (while I don’t vividly remember XXXI as a three-year-old), the Packers have already won two Super Bowls.

Bart Starr also won two Super Bowls. The very first two. And I don’t think the 1960s Packers get enough credit for being one of the NFL’s best teams ever to play the game.

Some of my all-time favorite players came from that era. Jerry Kramer. Dave Robinson. And of course, Bart Starr. Our team’s history is rich with legends and I’ll forever be grateful to be a fan of a franchise with such storied success.

It’s telling that, after Starr’s passing, there have been nothing but kind words spoken about the quarterback. Perhaps my favorite quote about Starr came from Kramer himself. Cliff Christl included the quote in a piece for Packers.com earlier this week.

“Bart was rarely the best quarterback in the league on a statistical basis,” said Kramer. “But for three hours each Sunday, he was – almost always – the best quarterback in the game in which he was playing.”

The Green Bay Packers are blessed to have so many Hall of Fame quarterbacks in their history. (I know Arnie Herber also is included in this list, but for this piece I’m just referencing the Super Bowl era.)

The loss of Bart Starr brought a lot of recognition to a player that seemingly never got enough credit for being one of the NFL’s best. His 9-1 career playoff record remains untouched today, and his playoff passer rating was 104.8.

For context, one of the most accurate passers in NFL history (Aaron Rodgers) has a playoff passer rating of 99.4.

To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the famous Green Bay trio of quarterbacks is the stark contrasts in their personalities. Bart Starr was the game manager and the general. Brett Favre was a rambunctious wildcard that made you hold your breath when he threw a pass. Aaron Rodgers is the precision passer and hail mary hero who avoids mistakes sometimes to the detriment of the team.

And to me, that’s what makes the team so fun to look back on. Aaron Rodgers has a career passer rating of 103.1. Brett Favre’s career passer rating (in Green Bay) was 85.8. Bart Starr’s career passer rating was 80.5. If you asked Packers fans who they’d take for a game-winning drive, I’m pretty sure the answer would be split evenly across all three men, and all for different reasons.

Part of the reason I felt inspired to write about Green Bay’s rich quarterback history is because I see people that view it as a competition, and I don’t think it needs to be. The fact that we’re even able to debate who the franchise’s greatest quarterback is because we’ve had so many talented quarterbacks is something we should be grateful for.

I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to my fandom, and that’s because football is my favorite thing. Even when the Packers are losing, I love them for the joy they bring me and for the memories they’ve helped me make with my loved ones. (You can make fun of me for that, it’s fine.)

I know Green Bay is called Titletown for a reason, and believe me, I appreciate the success of the franchise and the titles this team has achieved, but I also know better than to take that success for granted (seriously, I’m married to a Cleveland Browns fan).

I’ve written in depth about how I think the Packers will have a bounce back season in 2019 with Aaron Rodgers, and how I think it’s entirely likely the team will get to at least one more Super Bowl before he eventually retires. But the loss of Bart Starr this week keeps driving home a different point in my mind.

We don’t know what the future is going to look like when Rodgers steps away from football. Someday, we’ll be reminiscing about his greatest moments just like we do now with Starr and Favre. We can hope that Brian Gutekunst finds his guy just like Ron Wolf found his and Ted Thompson found his, but we don’t know.

So my hope for all of us is that we appreciate the present. There’s a lot of change happening this offseason. A new offense. A new scheme. New coaches. New role players. But one thing remains the same, and that’s the future-Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm.

Starr and Favre both got to two Super Bowls. Hopefully Rodgers can do the same. Whether he does or doesn’t, remember this:

We are in the midst of a quarterback legacy.

 

Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and a podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (14)

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stockholder's picture

May 31, 2019 at 08:02 am

We can hope that Brian Gutekunst finds his guy just like Ron Wolf found his and Ted Thompson found his, but we don’t know. It sounds like there is doubt. Gute could still be replaced. Are you going to blame Arron Rodgers if he doesn't get to the super-bowl? (Whether he does or doesn’t??? )Thats like Telling Rodgers he is a failure if he doesn't make the Super-Bowl. Legacy is a personal journey. The NFL is constantly changing. Some think Rodgers was better then Starr and Favre. What I'm seeing in this; " it's time for Rodgers to put up, or he should be replaced." Comparing QBs is taking it off Gute's shoulders. Rodgers is going to put up his numbers. It is up to Gute, to get the talent needed to get to the super-bowl. As it was with TT. We will never blame a QB who has a Legacy. The Coach gets the blame. Murphy should be on the hot seat. Just as much as Gute. If we don't get to the super-bowl, we need to clean House.

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Old School's picture

May 31, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Stockholder, I think you are mischaracterizing the position on Rodgers.

He's one of the older QBs in the league, and he has a growing injury history. Those are just facts. And over the last two years he wasn't as good as the two years before, and over the last 5 years he wasn't as good as the 5 years before.

We can deflect and talk about the line, the defense, the receivers, the coaches, etc., but none of that changes basic facts.

Now, 2019 is here. New coach. Better line, at least on paper. No rookie receivers. Better defense. So if Aaron Rodgers is one of the top 2 or 3 QBs in the league, as many think he is, then we should be in the thick of it all year. And that'd be great, and I'm sure we'd all agree on that.

But what if it doesn't happen that way? What if he's 15th in QB rating, and 18th in completion percentage? What if he misses time with injury....again? I mean, you say that Rodgers will put up his numbers.....well, those are the kind of numbers he's been putting up the last couple of years.

Cue deflection in 3....2....1.... But but but.

Here's what I think: When Gutekunst interviewed for the job, he said he intended to win with Rodgers. Murphy liked that plan and hired him. Gutekunst signed Rodgers to an unnecessary extension to ensure he'd be here for the duration.

So if Rodgers isn't a top QB this year.....FOR WHATEVER REASON....then Murphy and Gute will have to share in the blame. Gute will still have 3 years left on his deal after the season, but I'm under the impression that Murphy's contract is up earlier.

And, of course, some hard questions and hard choices are going to have to be made at the QB position.

Rodgers, from 2008-2012: He was 36-7 in games where he had a passer rating over 100 and completed 60% of his passes. Only Drew Brees was better during that period, by one game 37-7.

IOW, during that 5 year stretch, he consistently performed at the highest level more often than any QB other than Brees.

But now, look at 2015-2018....a four year stretch. In that time period, he's 10th. He had 22 games where his passer rating was over 100 with a 60% completion rate (Brees, the leader with 38). And Rodgers has been 17-5 in those games, which means when he hits those marks we usually win.

IOW, once upon a time, only Drew Brees was more consistently good, and that was a virtual tie. Now, there's about 10 guys over the last 4 years who are as good or better on any given Sunday.

This will almost certainly be difficult for Rodgers' fans to wrap their heads around, and I'll definitely be given downvotes for it, but you can't look at the data and conclude that Rodgers will be one of the top QBs in the league over the next several years.

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stockholder's picture

May 31, 2019 at 03:23 pm

Understand what your saying. But let me remind you of Rodgers contract extension. The problem is; we as packers fans continue to hear from the enemy. "If Rodgers goes down, the packers are DONE!" 2. Gute traded for Kizer. Thats on Gute. They wanted a back -up. Maybe even Rodgers replacement. If Rodgers was done in their opinion. You Draft the next successor. Gute Didn't. He traded a starter for a back -up. The article protects Gute. I'm saying you can't keep firing the coaches! Keep putting it on Rodgers. ( Because you miss on getting the right players. ) Murphy fired MM, and left Gute out of the next up, and hiring. This should have been Gute's call. Murphy has protected Gute. Things don't always go according to plans. The team is judged on wins and loses. Gute must share in that too. It's his job to build the roster. Wolf was hired because of the Blind leading the Blind. On the job training is not what the stockholders want in my opinion. I'm giving you a like for your stats. Outstanding!

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Old School's picture

May 31, 2019 at 07:50 pm

Stockholder, I've read through this twice now and I THINK I understand your position. Your issue is more Gute, than Rodgers...correct?

Gute became the GM because he convinced Murphy he could win with Rodgers. No rebuilding, no transitioning. Competitive in Year 1. So he gave Rodgers the big extension.

Rodgers, with that show of support, is pretty much bulletproof now and the guy in the front office who had hired McCarthy wasn't there anymore, but the guy who had just signed him to a big extension was.

The balance of power had shifted, and it culminated in McCarthy's dismissal.

But Year One didn't exactly go like it was planned. Rodgers got hurt right out of the gate and it affected him all year. We got boned by the officials at home against the Vikings and took a tie instead of a win. Crosby had the worst day of his life and we lost to the weakest team in the division.

So when we faced the Rams, we were 2-2-1 instead of 4-1. And we played a very good game on both sides of the ball, right up until Montgomery's Boner. But we also lost Allison and Cobb, and for the rest of the season, our offense was mostly just average.

The calculus, I'm sure, is that with Rodgers our offense would be one of the best in the conference, and the defense would improve because of Pettine and the addition of Jackson and Tramon and Alexander. But it didn't end up that way, and now we're 1.5 years into Gutekunst's 5 year deal. A year from today, we'll be halfway through, but if we miss the playoffs for the 3rd straight year, Gutekunst is going to be under a lot of pressure. Rodgers too, IMO.

And Murphy......I'm under the impression his contract comes up for renewal before Gutekunst.

So basically, if Rodgers doesn't stay healthy and play well it'll be interesting to see what happens next offseason. Gutekunst is playing out a really, really big gamble here.

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stockholder's picture

May 31, 2019 at 08:25 pm

Yes - perfect.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 02, 2019 at 12:07 am

Worry about the next guy at the Qb position in 2020-21. A better group of QBs coming from those classes in the first place. What was Gutekunst going to do draft Haskins or Lock?
They won't be anything special. I have advocated bagging a veteran backup QB who is not named Kizer. See what happens during the summer if the GM can swing a deal if Kizer continues floundering in the practice games.

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Handsback's picture

May 31, 2019 at 08:14 am

Maggie's article should be a sounding board to Green Bay fans......another Starr/Favre/Rodgers is unlikely to be drafted again by the Packers. They need to build a team so that a Foles/Wilson/Fitzpatrick quality QB can take it and win a SB.
I could be wrong, but one franchise drafting/trading for another HOF QB just seems difficult to impossible.

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Lare's picture

May 31, 2019 at 08:43 am

Although we've been blessed with some pretty good QB's in Green Bay over the years, I think it's just as important to consider the players around them. Some really great QB's have never won a Super Bowl (let alone multiple ones) due to the lack of talent around them.

Football is a team sport. Even the best QB in the history of the game needs a winning team around him.

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Since '61's picture

May 31, 2019 at 09:27 am

To me the point is that without excellent QB play your team is not going to be successful. How successful is a matter of how good the talent is that is around the QB.

Of the Packers 3 HOF QBs Starr had the most talented team around him both on offense and defense. Starr's Packers won 5 NFL championships in 7 years. A feat never accomplished either before and since and the team has 12 players in the NFL HOF. Bart won one NFL MVP award.

Favre had the next most talented team after Starr and he made it to 2 SBs, winning one. Favre played with only one other NFL HOFer, Reggie White. Yet Favre won 3 consecutive MVP awards and was widely considered the best player in the league during the second half of the 90s.

Rodgers, who is probably the most talented player to ever play QB for any team has had the weakest supporting cast around him. Charles Woodson is the only probable future HOF that Rodgers has played with. Rodgers has won one SB and 2 MVPs and counting. But of the 3 great Packer QBs Rodgers is a legitimate threat to win a game with his arm, his mobility, and his decision making.

If I need to win a game in this era of the NFL give me Rodgers. If I need to win a game prior to about 1990 give me Bart Starr. The bottom line is you can't go wrong with any of the 3 and the Packers haven't.

If you want a view of the Packers after Rodgers just look at 2017 after week 5 or go back and watch the Packers QB play from 1972 until 1989. We had some good play from Lynn Dickey in the late 70s and early 80s but the team was very inconsistent due to poor drafts and numerous injuries with less than stellar coaching or management. Thanks, Since '61

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 02, 2019 at 12:14 am

Add Peppers to that list. He's had the teams that should have gotten into the Big Game, like in 2011, 2014; coaching meltdowns did him in and scrubs who filled roster spots failing at key moments. I believe Gutekunst will right the ship.

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Old School's picture

May 31, 2019 at 10:04 am

I would argue that the "superior talent" argument is kind of circular. These guys are in the HOF because we won. IF we hadn't won, a lot of them wouldn't be in the Hall.

Meanwhile, Favre played with our all-time leading rusher and receiver, and if we'd won more titles, I think you might see more of those guys in the Hall.

Lynn Swann, for example, isn't in the Hall because of his career production as much as he's in because he was a key part of four championship teams. Getting it done on the biggest stage really helps.

We got lucky with Bart. Favre was an astute move by Wolf, and Rodgers was an astute move by Thompson. I would add that Dickey and Majkowski were pretty decent QBs on teams that weren't real good. Dickey would have benefitted immensely from the modern rules protecting QBs.

We should be lining up our next great QB. I know that's going to earn some downvotes.

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LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

May 31, 2019 at 04:16 pm

I agree with Old School where Majik & Dickey are concerned. Both were Very Good QB'S, with Poor teams around them. They deserve to be mentioned when ever possible. Both played with serious Handicaps. Lynn had braces on both knees, & Majik nearly had his ankle & foot amputated to get rid of the pain he had. I give the nod to Majik. He's the guy that got us out from under the Door Mat. To this day he has something like 23 screws in his ankle. You can't play QB with Handicaps like that. Just my opinion, but I think Majik & Dickey were both great Qb's, who just came around at the wrong time.
LVT

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IceBowl's picture

May 31, 2019 at 09:30 pm

Fans,

Are you really arguing "it takes a team to win?'

Packer fans are spoken of as "smart fans." And I know we are just blabbin', but we certainly know it takes a team to win (just look at last year),

Take any 7, 8, 9 players of your choice and try to win the Superbowl. You need 53, and more sometimes.

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JGPACK's picture

June 03, 2019 at 04:43 pm

Although he never played with a good enough defense to be a title contender, Lynn dickey was another excellent quarterback for the Packers. On his Hall of Fame induction, James Lofton was asked about how he was fortunate to play with the great Jim Kelly at the end of his career. Lofton replied that Lynn Dickey was on a level with Kelly.

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