HOF Mail Bag - Bart Starr

Hall of Famers Published on : 12/1/2005

HOF_Mail_BagHave the fundamentals of playing quarterback changed much since the 1960s? - Doug Heslip

Not being close to the game, it's a difficult question to answer. You see it from a distance and you say no because there's certain fundamental issues which will always be there. The flip side of that is that the game has changed a great deal. As all of you (fans visiting Profootballhof.com) will appreciate there's a substitution on every down and distance so its much more complicated.  I think the challenge for a quarterback today is even greater.

Dear Bart, It's pretty clear that strength of character is something that Lombardi must have really preached to your team. Even though strength of character is something seldom talked about, it must have a place in today's game. What place do you think strength of character has in today's game? - Sincerely, Jack Triolo

Right at the top; obviously your work habits, your toughness, your mental toughness, physical toughness, your dedication, commitment. All those types of words are going to be very integrated but the character words should come very close to the top if not right at the top because it's really what it comes down to.  And there are obviously very, I think, outstanding examples of that throughout the league. All you have to do is focus and look very hard for that and you'll find it on display.

Bart_StarrIf you could play football again, what would you do differently? - Matt Brown

I would begin by hopefully having an off-season aerobic conditioning program as well as an off-season and in-season strength training program.  Because I can only imagine how great a condition these guys are in today, most of them, there are some that obviously are not. Most of them are because of those two changes. I played an entire career without any weight-training program.

Did Coach Lombardi allow you to call plays? Did you rehearse a "script" of opening drive plays or situations? Did you audible much? - Lydia

In reverse order, we audibled a great deal because he believed in taking advantage of anything that the defense would show us that was a weakness as we perceived it. Yes, we did call our own plays. We were just unbelievably well trained and I think in the nine years under Coach Lombardi I bet he didn't call nine plays during a game. But, he didn't need to because we knew what he wanted and what we were going to be using. It was a joy to be able to call your own plays and work so closely with him that you also knew that he was going to endorse any audible that you called and that's why we just were really able to hurt our opponents with audibles.

Photo Courtesy of Green Bay Packers
Dear Bart, Growing up in Canton, Ohio only a mile from the Hall of Fame I was easily hooked on football. I grew up a packers fan (Born 1965), missed the great Packers teams of the sixties by a few years. But the highlights of you and the other Packer greats from the sixties era teams are forever etched in my memory. My question is where do you feel Brett Favre ranks among the all-time quarterback greats? I'm a little biased and I'm also a Packers stockholder, but I'm not going to just say he's the best. I do however think he ranks in the top 5 all-time. Take care. - Sincerely, Stephen C. Malcolm

Well, I not only would agree with that, I might put him well above five. I don't know that there has ever been a better physical talent with more toughness with more enthusiasm, with more of the leadership through example demonstration that he exhibits every game, every down and distance, he's just incredible. I would totally agree that he's right there at the top. I'm proud to say he's a friend; I've been able to get to know him well over the years. He and his wife are two very, very special people.

Can you tell us a story about Coach Lombardi that we may not have heard before? - Patrick Gallivan

Yes, and I'll keep this as brief as possible. In the "Ice Bowl," when we had taken our final time out down on the one-yard line, I ran to the sidelines to tell Coach Lombardi that there was nothing wrong with the wedge play which we had been attempting to run against the Cowboys. It was just that the ground was so hard and icy down there that the backs couldn't get there footing very well it was slipping and sliding. I said, 'Coach I've talked to the linemen, they can get their footing for one more wedge play.' And I said 'I'm upright, I can shuffle my feet and lunge in."  And here's this brutally cold situation, critical time in the game, only 16 seconds left, and all he responded was, 'Well, then run it and let's get the hell out of here.'