Greatness wasn't necessarily expected when the Green Bay Packers drafted quarterback Bart Starr in the 17th round in 1956. But greatness is what the Packers got.
Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 197 pounds, Starr wasn't a physically intimidating quarterback, and in the early part of his career he was hardly dominant. In his first five seasons, Starr's interceptions (41) were almost double his touchdowns (23).
But Vince Lombardi's 1959 arrival in Green Bay sparked Starr's dramatic evolution. From studying game tapes of Starr's first three seasons, Lombardi saw potential in the University of Alabama alumnus' mechanics. He also loved Starr's ability to manage a game.
And with Starr at quarterback the Packers went on to win six division crowns, five NFL championships and two Super Bowls.
From 1960-67, the Packers were 62-24-4 under Starr. The only playoff game Starr ever lost with the Packers was his first, the 1960 NFL Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles. After that, Starr was a perfect 9-0 in postseason play.
Starr was the MVP in Super Bowls I and II, throwing for a combined 452 yards and three touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, respectively.
Ironically, the play Starr might be most famous for was a run.
In the 1967 NFL Championship game, better known as the 'Ice Bowl,' the Packers trailed the Dallas Cowboys 17-14 late in the fourth quarter. The Packers got the ball to the Dallas 1-yard line with less than a minute left, but the icy field conditions made it difficult to execute quick-hitting running plays.
During the Packers' final timeout, Starr suggested to Lombardi that he should just sneak the ball into the end zone instead of handing it off. Lombardi agreed and Starr called '35 wedge,' a running play designed to Chuck Mercein.
None of Starr's teammates expected him to keep the ball, but with 13 seconds left he pushed his way into the end zone for the winning touchdown in what remains arguably the most famous game in football history, played at Lambeau Field amidst a wind chill of 45-below.
Starr was voted to four Pro Bowls during his career (1960-62, 66) and won the league MVP award in 1966.
Starr's '62 campaign included a career-high 2,438 yards passing and marked the first of four seasons in which he led the league in passing percentage (62.5). The second was in 1966, when he completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 2,257 yards and 14 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions.
Other seasons leading the league in passing percentage came in 1968 (63.7) and 1969 (62.2), and at the time of his retirement following the 1971 season, Starr's career completion percentage of 57.4 was an NFL best.
Starr also held the Packers' franchise record for games-played (196) for 32 years, through the 2003 season.
Immediately after his playing career ended, Starr became the Packers' quarterbacks coach in 1972.
In 1973, the Packers retired Starr's number 15, making him just the third player in team history to receive that honor.
In 1975, Starr became the eighth head coach in franchise history, replacing Dan Devine. Starr's tenure as head coach ended after the 1983 season (53-77-3, .410, including postseason).
Bryan Bartlett Starr was born January 9, 1934, in Montgomery, Ala.
Starr's Career Stats courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau: