The League

Gene Wang
Fantasy Guru

Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

Starr of the Show


Even before Vince Lombardi arrived as head coach, the Green Bay Packers were putting the pieces in place for one of the most celebrated dynasties in sports history. Perhaps the most important player during that time was a quarterback from Alabama chosen in 17th round of the 1956 draft. His name was Bart Starr.

Five championships later, including three in a row from 1965 to '67, Starr had cemented his status as the pre-eminent offensive player in franchise history. And to think he was the 200th player selected.

Over the past few decades, the Starr name has lost some of its mythical quality because of Brett Favre. Too often we become so enamored with the star of today that we forget those of the not-too-distant past. This is one such circumstance.

For all of Favre's heroics, the bottom line is he won one championship. That's one fewer than Jim Plunkett and as many as Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson.

Starr's titles included the first two Super Bowls, and he finished his career with a 9-1 record in the postseason. For you mathematically challenged folks, that's a .900 winning percentage when the stakes are at their highest.

There are few offensive players who can rival Starr in terms of all-time best draft pick, but Tom Brady comes close. Brady was a sixth-round choice (199th overall) and has led New England to three Super Bowl titles. He set the NFL record for touchdown passes two years ago as the Patriots went 16-0 during the regular season. He's simply the best quarterback of his generation, and that includes Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

But Starr gets a little more credit for the caliber of opponent the Packers beat in the championship games. In the 1966 title game, Starr gave the Packers the lead for good with his first and only touchdown pass in a 23-12 victory over a Cleveland team that featured Jim Brown.

The following season, Starr won his first Super Bowl MVP by completing 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-10 victory over Kansas City Chiefs, who had future Hall of Famers Len Dawson and Bobby Bell, as well as their coach, Hank Stram. The Chiefs would go on to win Super Bowl IV.

In Super Bowl II, Starr won his second Super Bowl MVP by going 13 of 24 for 202 yards and a touchdown in a 33-14 victory over Oakland. The Raiders also had their share of Hall of Famers, including Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown and George Blanda. Oakland later won Super Bowl XI, with Biletnikoff named MVP.

Brady's three Super Bowl wins came against St. Louis, Carolina and Philadelphia. How many Hall of Famers did those teams have? The Rams' Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Torry Holt are all but locks for the Hall, but the Panthers and Eagles are severely lacking. Plus only the Rams have a Super Bowl title among those three teams.

That's not to diminish the significance of Brady's accomplishments. Far from it. Brady also is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and a no-brainer for enshrinement in Canton. He may win a couple more titles before he's done.

But until he does, Starr has him beat by the thinnest of margins for all-time best offensive draft pick.

By Gene Wang  |  March 24, 2009; 12:40 PM ET  | Category:  Draft , Gene Wang , Green Bay Packers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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