By JERRY TAPP
NFL and Green Bay Packers icon/legend Bart Starr passed away on May 26 at the age of 85.
Starr’s passing has brought about a slew of articles, Facebook postings and remembrances from across the country. He was universally loved and admired. It seems that everyone has a Bart Starr story; mine goes back more than 50 years when as a youngster I heard him speak at a local high school. His message was one that extoled the virtues of putting God first in your life followed by family, friends and then self. Like many others in the audience that day, I shook his hand after the event and got an autograph. He was the first “celebrity” I ever met. He never disappointed me… even when he took over as head coach of the Packers and they were, shall we say, “less than successful.”
But I want to deal with one aspect of Starr’s career; he was an eighth round selection, the 200th pick of the Packers in the 1956 NFL Draft. Players picked that low don’t usually have NFL careers let alone become a star and a Hall of Famer. Here are a few stats you may not know about Bart Starr the draft pick and how that translated to his illustrious career.
- There have been a handful of NFL players who made the Pro Football Hall of Fame that were not drafted. In addition, there have been eight of the 279 Hall of Famers, like Starr, who were drafted lower than 200th in the draft. They are: Bart Starr (#200), Richard Dent (#203), Art Donovan (#204), Ken Houston (#214), Andy Robustelli (#228), Raymond Berry (#232), Lou Creekmur (#243) Chris Hanburger (#245) and Rosey Brown (#321). Starr is the lowest QB drafted to make the Hall; when Tom Brady is elected five years after his retirement, he will take a spot behind Starr … he was the #199 player drafted in the 2000 draft.
- There were 360 players drafted in the ’56 draft. Of those 360, only four went on to eventually make the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Lenny Moore (the #9 pick that year), Forrest Gregg (the 20th pick that year), Sam Huff (the 30th pick that year), and Starr (the 200th selection).
- Of the players taken in the ’56 draft, Starr is second on the list with most NFL games played with 196. The only player taken in the 1956 NFL Draft with more career NFL games is fellow QB Earl Morrall who was the second pick in the first round of that draft. He played 255 career games in the league.
- There were 19 quarterbacks selected in that 1956 draft. Starr was the ninth QB selected.
- The Packers chose 29 players in that draft. As the 200th pick, Starr was the 16th player drafted by the Pack that year. Of those 29 picks by the Packers, only seven went on to have careers in the NFL and only four played 100 or more games in the league: Starr (196), tackle Forrest Gregg (193), tackle Bob Skoronski (146) and defensive back Hank Gremminger (131). The Pack’s #1 pick that year was halfback Jack Losch from Miami whose NFL career included only the 12 games he played with Green Bay in the 1956 NFL season.
- Starr was one of six University of Alabama players chosen in the ’56 draft. Of the six, Starr was the only one ever to play a game in the NFL.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp