Bart Starr, the Hall of Fame Green Bay Packers legend and the first quarterback to ever win five NFL championships, died Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama, the Packers said. He was 85.
“We are saddened to note the passing of our husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Bart Starr,” his family said in a statement. “He battled with courage and determination to transcend the serious stroke he suffered in September 2014, but his most recent illness was too much to overcome.”
Starr, who played with the Packers from 1956 until his retirement in 1971, led the team to victory in Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II in the early ‘60s.
He was named MVP of both Super Bowls, and went on to win another three titles with the team, receiving the honor of NFL MVP in 1966.
Despite being a 17th-round draft pick for the team in 1956 out of the University of Alabama, Starr established his legacy with games like the Ice Bowl, and, according to the team, was “maybe the most popular player in Packers history.”
Starr was known for his game-winning quarterback sneak in a 1967 game against the Dallas Cowboys known as the Ice Bowl due to frigid temperatures.
The athlete’s No. 15 jersey was retired by the team in 1973, and he returned to Green Bay once again as head coach from 1975-83.
“While he may always be best known for his success as the Packers quarterback for 16 years, his true legacy will always be the respectful manner in which he treated every person he met, his humble demeanor, and his generous spirit,” his family’s statement read.
Starr, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977, was remembered by players past and present for his kind spirit.
“Bart Starr was the most kind, thoughtful and classiest person you could ever know,” wrote Brett Favre, who was the Packers quarterback from 1992 to 2007. “I consider myself extremely lucky to have called him friend and to have been mentioned in the same breath.”
Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ current quarterback, remembered Starr with a slideshow of photos on Instagram that he captioned with a simple red heart.
“The Packers Family was saddened today to learn of the passing of Bart Starr,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement.
“A champion on and off the field, Bart epitomized class and was beloved by generations of Packers fans. A clutch player who led his team to five NFL titles, Bart could still fill Lambeau Field with electricity decades later during his many visits. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Cherry and the entire Starr family.”
Starr is survived by his wife, Cherry, and son Bart Jr. He was preceded in death by his youngest son, Bret.
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