Starr making 'very, very slow recovery,' wife says

Jeff Ash
Gannett Wisconsin Media
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Green Bay Packers great Bart Starr smiles as he looks at the crowd before alumni day introductions at Lambeau Field in September 2013.

Green Bay Packers great Bart Starr is making "a very, very slow recovery" almost five months after having two strokes, four seizures and a heart attack, his wife says.

Cherry Starr discussed her husband's health when she spoke to the Arizona Republic for a story about his role in trying to bring an NFL team to Phoenix after being fired as Packers coach in 1983.

"When we left the hospital (after 2½ months), he could not walk or sit up unassisted. Now he's walking on a walker and standing very erect. He lost 20 pounds and gained back 10 and is getting stronger," she said.

Cherry Starr then tempered that optimism with a blunt assessment.

"I don't know how much recovery he can make with his cognitive ability," she said.

"He's been such a kind, generous, loving man all his life. It's not a good quality of life for him, and it hurts me to see him this way. I wish so much this had never happened."

Cherry Starr, wife of Bart Starr, speaks during the dedication of the Bart Starr statue at the Packers Heritage Trail plaza in downtown Green Bay in November 2013.

Bart Starr, who turned 81 earlier this month, has been married to Cherry for 60 years. He has not done interviews or made public appearances since being stricken in early September.

Their son, Bart Jr., presented the Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award for outstanding character, integrity and leadership to Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning at a Super Bowl breakfast in Phoenix on Friday. It was the first time since the award was created in 1989 that the elder Starr did not present it.

Bart Starr Jr. also filled in for his father at a Rawhide Boys Ranch event featuring former Packers quarterback Brett Favre and Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young in Ashwaubenon in early December.

At that time, the elder Starr had just taken his first steps in rehab.

"We have to be realists, at almost 81 years old, the level of recovery you might attain is not going to be necessarily what it would be, say, at 61," Bart Starr Jr. said at the time. "But whatever can be attained I think we will."

Bart Starr played for the Packers from 1956 to 1971 and won five NFL championships. He was the most valuable player in the first two Super Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. Starr coached the Packers from 1975 to 1983, compiling a 52-76-3 regular-season record.

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