Starr Thrilled To Serve As Honorary Captain

On a frigid NFC Championship Sunday, perhaps there will be no more appropriate presence at Lambeau Field than that of Bart Starr as the Packers’ honorary captain. Starr, author of the game-winning quarterback sneak in the "Ice Bowl," would present the NFC’s George S. Halas trophy to the Packers should they win the game. - More Packers-Giants Game Center


On what is expected to be a frigid Sunday with the NFC Championship on the line, perhaps there will be no more appropriate presence at Lambeau Field than that of Bart Starr as the Green Bay Packers' honorary captain.

Starr, author of the game-winning quarterback sneak in the "Ice Bowl" 40 years ago, will accompany the Packers' six playoff captains to midfield for the coin toss prior to Sunday's game against the New York Giants.

The Hall of Fame quarterback and leader of five world championship teams in Green Bay, Starr also would present the George S. Halas trophy on behalf of the NFC to the Packers should they win the game.

"That would be a tremendous thrill and honor," Starr said this week in a phone interview from Alabama. "Any trophy which bears that gentleman's name is truly distinct, and I think when you have the honor of presenting it to a championship team, the word honor just becomes enlarged."

Starr has been involved in significant ceremonies before, once at an NFC Championship game in St. Louis and also two years ago at the Super Bowl in Detroit, where he was part of the presentation of the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But this will be his first such event as an honorary captain, and he said he feels privileged to have been selected to serve in that role for his beloved Packers, who are one win away from their first Super Bowl appearance in 10 years.

"It's very thrilling," Starr said of the team's opportunity. "We're pleased for everyone in the organization, and particularly for Ted Thompson, Coach McCarthy, the team. Personally, I am for Brett (Favre), and everybody. They've earned it, as they say, and they truly have. And it's a tribute to them that here we are, the youngest team in the league, and playing at a level like this. It's very, very commendable.

"My wife and I look forward to being up there. I think we'll find a way to work through the cold. We've lived back here in Alabama for a number of years. I think we can find a way to tolerate it."

Starr did that not only during the Ice Bowl, but also during both of his own championship games against the Giants as a player. On Dec. 31, 1961, with the temperature 21 degrees and a wind chill of 5 in Green Bay, Starr led a 37-0 rout of New York with three touchdown passes to earn the franchise's seventh NFL title.

The following year for Starr was an even more memorable title game against the Giants. On Dec. 30, 1962, it was 13 degrees with 40 mile-per-hour winds in New York's Yankee Stadium, leading to a low-scoring, defensive struggle.

{sportsad300}"It was cold, but the biggest thing was how windy it was," Starr said. "That's what all of us always remembered. The sideline benches were these big heavy things, and the wind was so severe that day that it actually blew the benches over from time to time. You know how low they are to the ground, so you can understand how windy it was."

The Packers persevered in the elements, though, and defended their NFL title with a 16-7 victory on the strength of two fumble recoveries by game MVP Ray Nitschke, a touchdown run by Jim Taylor and three field goals by Jerry Kramer.

Like the Ice Bowl, overcoming the conditions was a mental and psychological task.

"It's typical of any type of condition -- it becomes an attitudinal problem, and you can let it defeat you or you can win with it, ... bypass it and win," Starr said. "That's what we were able to do, and that was one of the strengths of our team, and I know it is with these Packers. They will be primed."

The early forecast for Sunday's NFC Championship is for single-digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chills. Starr said the Packers can't, and won't, let that affect them.

"Let your attitude be the controlling force," is Starr's advice. "Your focus is obviously on your preparation, what your game plan is, what your needs are. You focus there, and the weather becomes a non-player. I think you have to put it aside like that in order to perform the way you need to."

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