On this day in sports history

BY COLIN “BIG C” MACGUIRE

The Greenville Standard

 

The weekend of May 25-26 was a sad one for the State of Alabama. Saturday, Rod Bramlett, The Voice of the Auburn and his wife Paula died in a tragic automobile accident that night.

Then Sunday afternoon Bart Starr, the Alabama and Green Bay Packer, passed away at age 85.

Today I will talk about Bart Starr and next week Rod Bramlett.

Bart Starr was born on Jan. 9, 1934 in Montgomery. Starr played at Sidney Lanier High in Montgomery. In Starr’s sophomore year, he quit the football team.

His dad gave him an option to play football or work in the garden. Starr chose football, which turned out to be a great choice.

In Starr’s junior year, the starting quarterback broke his leg, and Starr became the starter. He was named honorable mention All-State. Lanier went 9-0-1 that year.

In Starr’s senior year, Lanier finished at 9-1. Starr was All-State and All-American in 1951. He was a top prospect. He almost went to Kentucky who was coached by Paul “Bear”Bryant.

He picked Alabama and one of the reasons was because of his high school sweetheart Cherry.

In his freshman year, he lettered on the varsity. Because of the Korean War, freshmen were eligible. His sophomore year, he started at quarterback, defensive back and punter.

He led Alabama to the SEC Title, was second in the nation in punting, averaging 41.4 behind Zeke Bratkowski who later was Starr’s backup at Green Bay.

In his junior year, he played sparingly because of an injury. The head coach, Red Drew, was fired after his junior year and J.B. Whitworth was hired. Starr went to a youth movement and hardly played. Alabama went 0-10.

Johnny Dee, the basketball coach at Alabama, was friends with Jack Vainisi, Personel Director of the Green Bay Packers. Dee recommended Vainisi to draft Starr.

Starr was drafted in the 17th round as pick number 200. The Packers and Starr were up and down until Vince Lombardi came on board. 1959-1967 were the glory years with Lombardi and Starr leading the way.

Starr’s playoff record was 9-1. The Packers lost the 1960 NFL Championship Game to the Philadelphia Eagles, then won NFL Championships in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967.

They also won the first two Super Bowls. Starr was named Most Valuable Player in the first two Super Bowls.

After Lombardi stepped down, the Packers went down. In the summer of 1972, he retired as a player and was hired as Offensive Coordinator for Alabama and tutored former Alabama quarterback Scott Hunter.

In 1975, he was hired as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Then moved to Birmingham in the late 1980’s where he was successful in business and then retired.

Starr went from being a 17th round draft choice to the NFL Hall of Fame. That’s not too bad for a boy from Montgomery.

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