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Bart Starr talks about Lombardi, Super Bowls

Jan. 22, 2014
 
Bart Starr spoke Wednesday about playing in and preparing for the first two Super Bowls, former coach Vince Lombardi and Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers. File/Press-Gazette Media
Bart Starr spoke Wednesday about playing in and preparing for the first two Super Bowls, former coach Vince Lombardi and Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers. File/Press-Gazette Media

Former Packers quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bart Starr, who turned 80 this month, spoke with Portland Oregonian sports columnist and radio host John Canzano on Wednesday on a Portland radio station.

Starr spoke about playing in and preparing for the first two Super Bowls, former coach Vince Lombardi and Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers. Here are some excerpts.

On what he remembers about the week before Super Bowls I and II:

“The emphasis on how hard we had worked to get there and what was at stake for us to play the best that we could. This is Coach Lombardi talking to us, teaching us, preaching to us throughout the days that led up to it.”

On whether there was pressure to prove the NFL had the best teams:

“Yes, there was. It was an interesting week leading up to that game because we were out there on the West Coast preparing during that week, as were the Chiefs. And so there was a great deal of exposure, media attention leading up to it because of its uniqueness, being the first time.”

On whether Coach Lombardi was different in a big game vs. regular game:

“No, but just better. Because he had a way of approaching a game like that, that was just … it’s hard to describe, you would have to have been there in those meetings, those sessions and come to appreciate this man because he was a fabulous coach, but he was an outstanding teacher in the classroom as well.”

On who he would pick for one game: Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers:

“Well, I like them both, I really do and I’m not hedging because they’re both very, very talented. But Aaron Rodgers has come along and he is something else.”

On his name:

“My first name is Bryan – B-R-Y-A-N – and my middle name is Barlett, that’s where the Bart comes from, Bartlett. I was named after our family doctor, whose last name was Bartlett. My mother and dad, my dad’s first name was Bryan, and that’s where that comes from. And they named me after this doctor who they had come to know over the years and that’s how I got my name.”

On what being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame meant to him:

“I was honored going there because it was just a special occasion. The way the Hall of Fame treats that, handles the induction and so forth, makes you feel so rewarded that you are almost lost for the proper words.”

On being picked by Green Bay in the 17th round of the 1956 NFL draft:

“I thank many times to myself and to others that I was selected by the Packers, forget the round, I was just delighted to be picked because I was injured my last two years of college and so I didn’t get to play that much. And so I was just very, very pleased to be picked. In fact, I’ve told countless people over the years that the basketball coach at the time at the University of Alabama, Johnny Dee, was responsible for my ending up with the Packers because he was a close friend of the director of player personnel with the Packers. So, I probably would not have been picked.”

On which teammates stand out:

“They all stood out and we developed some great friendships. We were led, as you just heard me say a moment ago, by a fabulous gentleman in Coach Lombardi. And he taught the closeness, the compassion, the intricacy that is so very, very important in any type of team association. And I’m going to do something here that not many people have heard, and don’t think it’s corny because I think it’s very, very appropriate. But if you spell the team out, the word team, if you spell it appropriately, you can see why people really emphasize it. Together Everyone Achieves More.”

On whether Coach Lombardi talked about nerves before the Super Bowls:

“Not so much. He just let that be a part of how he approached the practice sessions and the sessions in the classroom as we were leading up to a game like that. This is why I’m so complimentary of him earlier because this man was a fabulous leader and I think if you’re a leader and you’re working with people like that, you must be an outstanding teacher, and prep kind of person. And that’s what he was. He was just a fabulous man to be in a classroom with. And on the field, but you tend to forget how important it is for him to be that same way in the classroom with you.”

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