Starr aims for Thanksgiving return to Lambeau

Weston Hodkiewicz
View Comments
Green Bay Packers great Bart Starr smiles as he looks at the crowd before alumni day introductions at Lambeau Field in September 2013.

The Green Bay Packers may get Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Bart Starr together for a game next season, after all.

Starr's son, Bart Jr, reported at Favre's Packers Hall of Fame induction on Saturday night that his father is making progress in his recovery from two strokes and a heart attack he suffered last September. He now hopes to be back for Favre's jersey retirement on Thanksgiving against the Chicago Bears.

"I'm pleased to tell you thanks to your many heartfelt prayers, well wishes, letters and phone calls dad has begun turning the corner in a significant way," Starr Jr said. "I've been dangling out to him three things that will take place. No. 1, he wants to walk out onto midfield and give Brett Favre a hug and tell him how much he loves and admires him.

"No. 2, he wants to tell the same thing to all of you because you cannot imagine how strengthening it is to get all of your messages and all of your well wishes. You have made a difference in his recovery and therefore my mom's well-being also."

Thirdly, Starr Jr added that his father wants meet with the family of Mike Gage, the former Green Bay Press-Gazette publisher and Packers Hall of Fame president who received the Bart and Cherry Starr Recognition Award posthumously on Saturday night.

Starr, 81, suffered two strokes, seizures and a heart attack over a week's time in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala., in early September. The family announced last month that the Packers Hall of Fame quarterback is undergoing stem-cell treatment to aid his recovery.

During an appearance at Brett Favre’s Flag Football game on Sunday, Starr Jr. said his father is scheduled to undergo the second of the two treatments sometime in September. San Diego-based Stemedica Cell Technologies is conducting his treatments just south of the border of Mexico.

Starr never sustained any paralysis, but the multiple strokes affected his speech. The outpouring of support he’s received from fans and former teammates has served as motivation for the legendary quarterback.

“You use that as motivation,” Starr Jr. said. “I’ll say dad, ‘Brett Favre wants you there on Thanksgiving and so does the Packers organization and so do all these people, but now you have to do five more minutes on the bike.’ That’s the way athletes respond, right? They want something to be a goal that they can achieve. I’m trying to use that and it’s working. We just have to keep working a little more.”

A congratulatory video from Starr and his wife, Cherry, was played in the stadium during Favre's retirement ceremony. While it initially was uncertain if the Packers would be able to get Favre, Starr and Aaron Rodgers together for the Thanksgiving game, there’s now hope the gathering could happen.

“I’m hoping that Bart Sr., I have my fingers crossed that he’ll be there for that ceremony,” Favre said on Saturday night. “And Bart Jr. has promised me he’s going to be here – we’re getting him in tip-top shape – so I’m looking forward to that. What happens in between, I don’t know.”

Added Starr Jr. on Sunday: “Oh we’re absolutely going to do that. Unless we had some unforeseen setback, we’re going.”

-- and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

View Comments