This season marks 100 years since the creation of the Green Bay Packers, who have won more National Football League titles than any other team in the NFL.
One of the Packers’ greatest traditions is its quality quarterback play, at least when they’ve had that. (And they have not always had that.) The Packers have three NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks — Arnie Herber, Bart Starr and Brett Favre — and undoubtedly will have a fourth after Aaron Rodgers retires.
Elsewhere in the NFC North, Detroit has two, Earl Clarke and Bobby Layne, but neither spent most of their careers with the Lions. Chicago has four, Jimmy Conzelman, John Driscoll, Sid Luckman and George Blanda, but only Luckman spent most of his career (all of it, in fact) with Da Bears. (In essence the Bears have been trying to replace Luckman ever since he retired in 1950. Da Bears might have won more than zero NFL titles with Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus on the roster had they not let Blanda go to the American Football League.) Minnesota has two, Fran Tarkenton and Warren Moon, and Moon didn’t play long with the Vikings. (And, for that matter, the Vikings traded away Tarkenton, and then traded to get him back.)
Other teams have Hall of Fame quarterbacks — for instance, San Diego’s Dan Fouts, Miami’s Dan Marino and Buffalo’s Jim Kelly — who never won Super Bowls. Teams are lucky to have one Hall of Fame QB in their history, let alone more than one. (Miami has Bob Griese and Marino, and Dallas has Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. San Francisco has Y.A. Tittle, Joe Montana and Steve Young. The Cleveland/L.A./St. Louis/L.A. Rams have Bob Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin and Kurt Warner, though Warner also counts as a Giants and Cardinals QB.)
Jason Wilde writes about the three QBs in the headline:
Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers eventually lost count. That’s how often the two Green Bay Packers star quarterbacks received handwritten notes from the man who set the standard — in every possible way — for them in Green Bay: Bart Starr.
“How many he wrote? I mean, hundreds,” Favre recalled this summer, several weeks after attending — and, along with Rodgers, speaking at — a private memorial service for their quarterbacking role model after Starr passed away at age 85. “Not only after good games, not even necessarily after a game. A tough game, a tough loss, maybe I didn’t play too well. …
“One of the letters I got from Bart was after we had won the Super Bowl in New Orleans (after the 1996 season). This letter starts off like basically all of them did from Bart: ‘Hey Brett, congratulations. What a great season, what a great win. I could not be happier for you and your team. …’ So on and so forth.
“But, you know, Bart was a perfectionist in so many ways, and a true gentleman and professional. This is typical Bart. Then he (writes), ‘I am a bit concerned about how you wore your hat during media day.’ I think it was turned backwards or something like that. You couldn’t help but get a chuckle out of it. But that was Bart, he was always quick to congratulate and commend and say all kinds of nice things, but he would also point out things that he felt in his eyes were unprofessional and he just wanted you to be aware of it.”
For the past three decades, Favre and Rodgers have done their best to live up to Starr’s ideals. And while that’s not always the easiest thing to do — as a human being, or as a quarterback — their success has given the Packers something no other NFL team can claim in the past century: three Pro Football Hall of Fame-level quarterbacks.
“Here’s a guy who won more championships than anybody. And people talk about the kind of person he (was),” Rodgers said. “I think there’s no greater compliment than a guy who’s accomplished so much on the field and the first thing people talk about is the kind of person that he is.
“I met him back in 2006 at Fan Fest, and I remember the feeling of excitement meeting him. I used to watch him on an old VHS (tape) — highlights of him from the first couple Super Bowls and knowing the stories.
“He lived a fantastic life. He impacted so many people. He did so much for people that you probably will never know about. I think he taught a lot of us great lessons about what it means to be a Packer.”
Starr, of course, led Vince Lombardi’s legendary Packers teams to five titles in a seven-year span, including victories in the first two Super Bowls — earning Super Bowl MVP honors in each game. His teams were 9-1 in postseason play, and his playoff passer rating of 104.1 remains the best in NFL history. A 17th-round pick from Alabama in the 1956 NFL Draft, he became the starter in 1959 and played 196 regular-season games (153 starts) in 16 seasons in Green Bay.