Perhaps Bart Starr's most famous moment as a player came during the 1967 NFL Championship game, better known as the "Ice Bowl." Starr scored on a one-yard sneak with 13 seconds remaining to give the Packers a 21-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys. The game remains arguably one of the greatest in NFL history.
Although Starr certainly won't be forgotten for his heroics in that game or for his MVP awards in Super Bowls I and II, those accomplishments are just a small piece of his legacy. Throughout his career as a player (1956-1971) and as the Packers head coach (1975-1983), there was more to Starr than just his football achievements.
Starr's generosity and kindness were recognized Saturday afternoon with the unveiling of a 7 1/2 foot statue outside of the Resch Center at the newly named Bart Starr Plaza. The bronze statue was dedicated to Starr in the company of his wife, Cherry, and son, Bart Jr. Also in attendance were Packers president/CEO Bob Harlan and former player Larry McCarren, as well as KI President Dick Resch, and Wisconsin Republican representative Mark Green, all of whom spoke at the event.
According to Resch, Starr, who is now 70 years old, is more than deserving of the statue sculpted by Brian Maughan.
"The centerpiece of this plaza is a larger than life statue of a larger than life man," Resch said.
Each speaker offered their fond memories of Starr, reflecting on what kind of person he was to others more so than what he accomplished on the gridiron.
"I've had a number of occasions in my life where I have admired somebody from a distance and put them on a pedestal," Harlan explained. "When I had a chance to meet those people or read a book about those people I was very disappointed because there were things there that didn't make their lives so appealing, and I thought I put them on that pedestal before they belonged there.
"But Bart Starr was a pleasant exception. When I joined the Packers in 1971, I got to know Bart as a player and as an assistant coach. I had the privilege of working for him for nine years while he was the head coach."
Most of Harlan's memories of Starr were away from the gridiron and more about what kind of person he was to others.
"I found out he was just as genuine as I wanted him to be," Harlan said. "He was just as genuine as I thought he would be. He was kind to people. He was concerned about his community. He was a loving husband, he was a great father. He always had time for the small people that wanted to be around him."
Starr Jr. said his dad was the ultimate team player and often would refuse to take credit for many of his accomplishments. He said Starr would give praise to others, especially on the one play that will forever be etched in Packers history.
"If you listen to my dad recount the 'Ice Bowl' game, he doesn't talk about his quarterback sneak, or Jerry's (Kramer) block," Starr Jr. said. "What he talks about is the fact that Jerry and the rest of the offensive line made every block leading up to that point, and that running backs Chuck Mercein and Donny Anderson and the receivers were telling him about the specific weaknesses they were spotting, which built up to the one play that we all see.
"He may have gotten the credit for that sneak, but he knows that an awful lot went into it. In fact, he typically points out to those people that if the defense didn't stop the Cowboys on that drive it would have been a moot point anyway. And that's the way a teammate looks at that sort of thing."
Starr Jr. said his dad was a very humble man and always thought that he owed the Packers a great deal for giving him a chance as a player and later as a coach. According to him, Starr also knew the importance of the Green and Gold faithful.
"I remember even as a little kid walking from the practice field up to the stadium," Starr Jr. recalled, "I asked him about the many fans seeking his autographs as we were about to go on the bus to go over to St. Norbert's. And he said, 'you take the time to sign every one of them. These are the people that make everything possible.' That is what a real team player does."
Starr often had to wipe away tears when Bart Jr. or Cherry were at the podium. He also had a difficult time hiding his emotion for Packers fans.
"I thank all of you for coming here and for your loyal support through the years and for being the very special people from Wisconsin," Starr told the crowd. "I did see some Packers fans from other states earlier and it has been an absolute joy to experience this. These 31 years have been the greatest years of our life and this will always be our adopted home."
The crowd gave their hero a standing ovation as he left the podium. To finish the reception off, McCarren stepped up to the podium once again to recall what Starr meant as a coach.
"I didn't have the privilege of playing with Bart Starr. I had the privilege of playing for Bart Starr," McCarren said. "It's true we didn't win enough games, but Bart, the things you talked about, the things you emphasized and the things you stood for helped a lot of us become winners or at least try to become winners in a game where the final score is what kind of life you lead."
If that's the case, it's safe to say that not only will Starr always be a winner, but so will everyone he has come in contact with, on the field and away from it as well.