Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr was tough.
Ask teammate Jerry Kramer, the Sandpoint native and Pro Football Hall of Fame guard, who recalled for Investor’s Business Daily in 2011 how Chicago Bears linebacker Bill George once tackled Starr high during an early game in the 1961 season, splitting his lip up to his nose, then taunting the bleeding quarterback about being soft. According to Kramer, Starr pointed to George and said, “Bill George, we’re coming after you!”
Then, Kramer said, “Bart took us down the field and we scored. Then he gets stitched up, never misses a play, we win the ballgame and Bart Starr was proven to me.”
Starr, the stoic quarterback whose famed sneak behind Kramer won the “Ice Bowl” in 1967, died at age 85 on Sunday.
According to Kramer’s book, “Instant Replay,” Starr showed that tough side early on in that Packers’ 1967 Super Bowl season. During training camp, Kramer documented a moment after an August preseason game: Bart Starr raised his voice tonight, which is very, very rare. The only time he ever raised his voice to me in a game was five years ago, and then he said, “C’mon Jerry, let’s go.” After that game, he apologized. “Gee. I didn’t mean to holler at you.” But tonight Steve Wright, our reserve tackle, was blocking Lloyd Voss, the Steelers’ defensive end, and on one play Voss got through to Bart late, just after Bart had released a pass, and slammed an open hand into Bart’s face, hitting him in the mouth, not vicous, but hard. When we got back to the huddle, Bart looked at Steve very sternly and said, “Steve Wright, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, letting Lloyd Voss in here. I’ll tell you one thing. If I see that guy in here once more tonight, I’m not going to kick him in the can, I’m going to kick you in the can, right in front of 52,000 people. For Bart, that was very strong talk. Lloyd Voss never got through again.
In late January, Kramer spoke at length on Starr and his Packers days during “Super Stories” at Spokane’s Bing Crosby Theater, where he shared the stage with former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Mark Rypien. At the event, part of the Northwest Passages Community Forum series and hosted by The Spokesman-Review and KHQ/SWX, Kramer told co-host Dave Boling that he and Starr spoke on the phone regularly and he believed the Hall of Fame quarterback would perk up after each conversation. Starr’s health had been in decline since suffering two strokes and a heart attack in 2014.
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