This Starr quarterback is a gentleman

Like Molly, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first learned to read. I’ve been lucky to receive encouragement along the way from an unlikely source, Bart Starr.
As a fourth grader at St. Therese elementary school, I wrote a story about Mr. Starr. Amused, my mom forwarded it to him. That he responded at all says enough about the man, who one year later became head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
My story took place just after the Packers retired Mr. Starr’s number and three years before he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
At that point, he had just ended a 16-year career as an NFL player (all with Green Bay) and was working as the quarterbacks coach for the team. Additionally, he and his wife Cherry were actively involved in Rawhide Boys’ Ranch, a residential care facility for troubled boys. He was a very busy man. That he took the time to review an odd little story written by a nine-year old girl touched my family and me more than it surprised us. The man has class.
A decade later I left a message for him, asking if I could interview him for a story I was writing. At that time, I was a journalism student at Marquette University and I called him from a college apartment I shared with six other girls.
The next day, a roommate knocked on my door.
“Um, Laura,” she said with wide eyes. “Bart Starr is on the phone for you.”
Bart Starr had called back just to help me out with a class assignment!
I’m just a minor character in a life story that spans nearly 78 years and involves countless stories of sweet gestures and strong support. Publicly, he has mentored the Packer quarterbacks who followed him. When Zeke Bratkowski, who played back-up quarterback to Starr during the Glory Years, entered the Packer Hall of Fame in 1989, he asked Starr to induct him. This ability to share the spotlight says a tremendous amount about both athletes.
I saw a poll recently asking football fans to vote on the greatest quarterback to play the game. Statistically, Bart Starr certainly ranks among them, though I think it’s tough to pick a single player based solely on numbers.
Transcending the numbers are the qualities that really define a legacy — things like integrity, kindness and dignity.
Bart Starr may or may not be the greatest quarterback to play the game, but he is for sure the greatest man to play quarterback.

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