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Former Alabama standout lives, despite health issues

Photo by: uni-watch.com

A few things in football make up a legendary quarterback, but resiliency is an asset that makes a strong man. Resilency tells an individual that life goes on, despite mishaps, tragedies or unfortunate situations. It causes one to be transparent and enjoy life as it comes and goes.

Former Alabama standout and Green Bay Packers legend Bryan “Bart” Starr is the face of toughness, willpower and resiliency. He endured crushing hits from linebackers and defensive linemen in his playing days, however, life threw Starr a curveball in his latter years.

At 81 years old, Starr looked death in the face in September 2014 as he encountered two strokes and a mild heart attack. A rehabilitation process followed, yet he suffered from four seizures. Starr was a shell of what he once was. He couldn’t eat or walk on his own.

All of this at once seemed fatal, but Starr forged on. He underwent stem cell treatment at a trial clinic in June 2015.

According to Brent Schrotenboer, sports writer for USA Today, Starr enjoyed a delicate meal Tuesday morning. He feasted on three pancakes and an omelet with three eggs and cheese.

Cherry Starr, Bart’s wife of 61 years, made the meal and said to USA Today that it didn’t take the former Alabama quarterback long to eat it. In 10 months, Star has gone from being in critical condition to eating and walking on his own. He’s back to enjoying life again.

Alabama had Bart Starr before hiring legendary head coach Paul Bryant. Starr played for the Crimson Tide from 1952-56. He tossed for 1,903 passing yards and completed 54.4 percent of his passes. Starr’s best season was in 1952, when Alabama finished at 10-2.

Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers Photo by: ESPN

Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers
Photo by: ESPN

Starr was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1956, and spent all 15 seasons with them.

His career in the National Football League was iconic, as Starr was a four-time Pro Bowl selection (1960-62, 1966), a five-time NFL champion (1961-62, 1965-67), and a two-time Super Bowl champion in 1966 and 1967. Starr was voted most valuable player in Super Bowl I and II. He was inducted into the Packers’ Hall of Fame and Pro Football’s Hall of Fame in 1977.

His No.15 jersey was retired, and Starr was named to the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team. Starr was the first quarterback to win two Super Bowls. He had the highest playoff passer rating (104.80) of any quarterback in NFL history. Starr compiled a 9-1 record in the playoffs.

His career completion percentage of 57.4 was an NFL best when he retired in 1972.

Starr accounted for 24,718 career passing yards. He was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981. Starr enjoyed playing for Green Bay so much that ended up coaching the franchise for eight seasons (1975-83). The Packers honored one of its heroes by naming an award after him. The esteemed Bart Starr Award is given to a player that demonstrates outstanding character. Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers won it in 2014.

Starr, like the late Kenny Stabler, has a heart for the people. He and his wife Cherry co-founded Rawhide Boys Ranch in New London, Wisconsin in 1965. It’s designed to help at-risk and troubled boys throughout the state of Wisconsin. Starr and Cherry are still affiliated with it.

It takes guts to be an Alabama quarterback. It takes skill to become an NFL legend. It takes passion to live every day, even when all hell breaks loose. Bart Starr has done all three.


Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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