Cory's Corner: Bart Starr Would've Succeeded Today

A big reason why Green Bay is now nicknamed Titletown is because of Bart Starr. Sure, Vince Lombardi gets a lot of credit, but it was Starr that revolutionized the game back then. 

He had a passer rating of 104.3 in 1966 and 105 in 1968. By the time he retired in 1971, both would remain in the top ten of the NFL single season records until 1991. 

How amazing is that? In an age when the Packers were known for the Power Sweep, ferocious defenses and an unstoppable head coach, it was Starr that was constant. 

Even when I watch old footage of him throw, I see a lot of traits that today’s quarterbacks covet. He had a quick release, he was an excellent decision maker and he did a marvelous job with play-action. The play-action was where he truly made his bread and butter. Opposing defenses were geared up to stop Jim Taylor or Elijah Pitts and were stunned when they suddenly saw the staccato-like snap that Starr brought the ball back and found an open receiver downfield. 

Many don’t think Starr could’ve succeeded in today’s aerial assault, but I disagree. Let’s not forget that he had four seasons that he completed over 60 percent of his passes and he averaged a modest 7.8 yards per pass attempt — a number that would’ve made him No. 11 among all NFL passers last year. That’s ahead of Carson Wentz, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and yes, even Aaron Rodgers. 

But yet, even though Starr won five championships, he still gets overlooked. Many discount what he did prior to the Super Bowl era, but in three World Championship Games pitting the AFL vs. the NFL, Starr completed 52 percent of his passes, threw for 396 yards with four touchdowns and one pick. His completion rate looks askew because he only attempted 56 passes in three games. That’s one game for Drew Brees nowadays.

The reason why Starr was tough to figure out was because nobody knew the kind of heart he had. Everyone always talks about the chip on Rodgers’ shoulder when he fell to No. 24 in the 2005 NFL Draft. Well, there were nine quarterbacks taken ahead of Starr in the 17thround. The size of Starr’s chip had to be immeasurable. Since he was taken so late, nobody thought he could do anything and even when he was given the chance, many shrugged it off simply because of the Packers’ strong running game.

Starr was not a complementary piece on a great team. He simply was great. He was a skilled, efficient passer and he coupled that with sheer toughness. 

Anyone that still overlooks what he did and what he meant to the Packers and to Green Bay is completely overlooking a winning attitude. Starr didn’t rack up a 9-1 career playoff record simply because he had a great team. He was the field general; he knew what buttons to push and when to push them. Leadership matters and even back then he proved what leadership can mean to a team.

 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (23)

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I bleed green more's picture

May 28, 2019 at 07:19 am

Great story loved watching him throw.

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Nick Perry's picture

May 28, 2019 at 07:40 am

"He had a passer rating of 104.3 in 1966 and 105 in 1968. By the time he retired in 1971, both would remain in the top ten of the NFL single season records until 1991."

Looking at those numbers could you just imagine what Starr would do in TODAY'S NFL? When you look at the differences in todays NFL and the NFL Starr played in, it makes Starr's statistics all the more impressive.

Oh and by the way... 3 NFL Championships in a ROW. 5 NFL Championships in 7 years.

Starr would succeed in ANY era.

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RCPackerFan's picture

May 28, 2019 at 07:54 am

Starr is one of the players I wished I would have had the opportunity to have seen play. Being 37 years old obviously I never got that chance.

The unfortunate part with Starr is he doesn't get enough credit today when people talk about the greatest QB's of all time. He deserves to be mentioned more highly amongst the greatest of all times.

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Leatherhead's picture

May 28, 2019 at 09:04 am

If you’re a guy who thinks it’s about RAS scores and other physical metrics, Bart doesn’t stand out that much.

If you think the QB position is about leadership, then he’s the obvious first pick.

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dblbogey's picture

May 28, 2019 at 12:14 pm

Agree, but Bart was pretty nimble avoiding pass rushers and also ran well. He was probably a better athlete than he's given credit for. His character, heart and leadership qualities were unmatched.

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LambeauPlain's picture

May 28, 2019 at 12:34 pm

I recall reading a book about the Packers (maybe Moraniss's?) that discussed a situation where Vince, reviewing game film with the team, uncharacteristically berated and chewed out Bart with profanity after showing a failed play.

After the film session, Bart privately went to Lombardi and said "how do you expect me to lead this team when you treat me with such disrespect? Don't ever do that again, sir!"

Vince NEVER did it again.

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Since'61's picture

May 28, 2019 at 09:22 am

Starr would succeed today but do not underestimate the impact of Lombardi on his career. Prior to Lombardi’s arrival Starr’s career was floundering. He didn’t become the starting QB until the middle of the 1960 season.

Starr had a great work ethic, he was smart and he rarely made a mistake which hurt the team. He was tough and he preferred to take a sack rather than throw a pick.

Starr benefitted greatly from what was probably the greatest OL in NFL history and one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.

Given the current passer friendly rules and numerous versions of the WCO he would likely cut defenses to pieces. Starr was not very mobile so he would need solid OL play but otherwise there is no reason why he could not play and win in the current NFL. Thanks, Since ‘61

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flackcatcher's picture

May 28, 2019 at 03:50 pm

How does one grade truly one of the greatest players in NFL history. I agree with your overall assessment '61, but Starr was so good on the field it was impossible to tell when Lombardi ended and Starr began. Even by today's standards, Starr makes Brady look clunky. So smooth, so understated, even before his offense reach the LOS he was making line calls and route adjustments. Made Farve and Rodgers look like sandlot players by comparison. (Watch his lateral movement inside the pocket, Rodgers should if he wants to extend his career.) I'll leave with this. As great a pro football player Bart Starr was, he was even a better man off the field, I personally witness that. We were all so very blessed that he was a Green Bay Packer.

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jannes bjornson's picture

May 28, 2019 at 10:30 pm

His execution of the Play-fake on the handoff or the bootleg was impeccable. The footwork off play action into a passing motion is very difficult to perform and Bart was great at it as was Johnny U. All the great QBs we see today emulate his technique. Hopefully, Le Fleur keeps Rodgers under center more this season and the play-action returns. Rodgers is another perfectionist in the pocket. Big Irv made Farve run the ball more in high school and it helped his footwork and balance to succeed in the passing game.

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Lare's picture

May 28, 2019 at 09:27 am

Bart was at the top of a long line of great players to play for Green Bay.

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LambeauPlain's picture

May 28, 2019 at 10:14 am

Vince was an accomplished O coordinator for the Giants when he arrived in GB and was determined to establish the line of scrimmage first with the run game.

Look any any highlight film of Bart...he showed play action on virtually every pass attempt. Defenses almost always bit because the line was so good selling the fake....especially with the vaunted sweep blocking setting it up.

So the pass offense was ready for a brainy, accurate QB with tremendous character and leadership skill...who called his own plays and knew where to pass the ball....and he sprayed it all over the field to several receivers.

Bart and Vince had great chemistry. I am hoping Aaron and Matt can match it.

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sam1's picture

May 28, 2019 at 10:33 am

No matter what you say good about Mr. Starr you know it is RIGHT as a player and a human! Saw him play in person when I was a teenager and it was sheer bliss to watch!

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56 Packfan's picture

May 28, 2019 at 11:49 am

Starr had a consecutive no-interception streak that stood as the NFL record for many years. If my memory is correct, that ended when he tried to hit Hornung on a long pass against Jimmy Johnson, a great cornerback and brother of Olympic Gold Medalist Rafer Johnson. RAS does matter, even back then.

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wildbill's picture

May 28, 2019 at 01:13 pm

Starr had the perfect skill/mind/toughness that would be eating up defenses in today’s game. I feel so lucky to have been able to watch his career and when I go to Lambeau each year I proudly wear his jersey

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

May 28, 2019 at 03:29 pm

I don't know. My dad said Bart may not have had a strong throwing arm and that most of his passes were only 15-20 yards, because it was more of a running style offense and accuracy is paramount nowadays. Defensive guys are flying around at 4.3 speed. I will have to check further.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

May 28, 2019 at 03:36 pm

He threw the turn-ins and short posts as good as anybody,” said Knafelc. “Bart didn’t have that strong an arm so he didn’t throw deep that much. And no (he didn’t throw many outs) – not much.

“One thing about Bart, the point (of the football) was always up, easy to catch and you always had time. He anticipated so well. That was his secret. It wasn’t his touch so much; he anticipated your break. When you made that final cut, the ball was there.

1. He knew his limitations which made him great.
2. Very intelligent player
3. Great overall leader and teammate.

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Since'61's picture

May 28, 2019 at 03:53 pm

A few minutes ago on WFAN in NY Mike Francesca delivered a very nice tribute to Bart Starr which he began with, “Bart Starr is the highest of NFL royalty, you can’t get any higher than Starr among NFL icons.”

Mike ended the tribute with, “Bart Starr will never be replaced.”

That just about sums it up. Thanks, Since ‘61

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sam1's picture

May 28, 2019 at 06:11 pm

If Bart had been famous for what he did in England, he would be know as KNIGHT STARR!

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marpag1's picture

May 28, 2019 at 04:59 pm

It's likely to be an unpopular opinion, but I think It depends how you mean it. Do you mean, "If Starr had grown up TODAY with all the modern training advantages, would he still be great in today's game" then yes, I think so. But if you mean "Could Starr's 1960s level of play cut it in the NFL today..." well, no, I don't think so.

If Starr had been born 25 years ago, he would have had the benefit of vastly improved training and nutrition, he would have played on far more developed programs with much better coaching both in high school and college, and he would have been much better than he was back in the 1960s. Nowadays, parents in Texas hold their kids back in school for no other reason than that they want their kids to be big for their class so that they'll be good in football. Heck, parents are feeding dietary supplements to young grade school kids, all for football. They have state of the art training facilities even in high school. If Bart had the same those same advantages, then yeah, I think he could be good or great today.

On the other hand, if you could somehow cut Bart Starr's actual performance out of a 1960's game and paste it into 2019, I don't know if he could even make an NFL roster. He just didn't have the arm strength, velocity, quick release etc that are necessary in today's game. I don't see that as a slight to Starr at all. His talent level was ahead of his time. He was the best in the world in his day.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

May 28, 2019 at 04:43 pm

The game didn't change, just the rules.

Just my opinion only.

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Kevin Gibson's picture

May 28, 2019 at 05:30 pm

So much yes in this.

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IceBowl's picture

May 28, 2019 at 06:38 pm

Bart Starr always succeeded!!

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GLM's picture

May 28, 2019 at 09:28 pm

Another thing about Bart's passing is that he got the ball in the hands of his receivers in space, and allowed them to make plays. Look at that final drive again vs. Dallas in the Ice Bowl, and Bart's passes were right where they needed to be, and his players made awesome plays running after the catch.

That is one example, and I'm sure you can see that repeated in a lot of his film.

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