Greatness in Green Bay: Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers

Bart, Brett and Aaron(1)

Thanksgiving night will be a very special time for the Green Bay Packers and their fans with the Chicago Bears coming to Lambeau Field.

It will be special for a number of reasons.

For one thing, the game will be the first Thanksgiving game in Green Bay since 1923, when the Hammond Pros came to Bellevue Park. The Packers won that Turkey Day game 23-0.

Also, if the 7-3 Packers beat the 4-6 Bears on Thursday night, the all-time series between the two teams will be even for the first time since 1933.

Yes, you heard that right, 1933. That would be 82 years ago. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had just started his first term as President of the United States back then.

The Packers and da Bears have been playing each other in the NFL since 1921. Chicago holds a 92-91-6 edge in the regular season while the teams are 1-1 in the postseason.

In addition to that, the Packers are going to be honoring Brett Favre Thursday night. Favre will have his retired No. 4 formally unveiled on the facade at the legendary stadium.

On hand for that event will be former Packers great Bart Starr.

That means three legendary quarterbacks will be at Lambeau Field Thursday night for the Packers. Starr and Favre of course, plus Aaron Rodgers will be playing that night versus the Bears.

In a story by Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rodgers said was looking forward to seeing both Starr and Favre at the game.

Rodgers talked about how great it will be to see Starr.

“You know Bart’s been such a great encouragement to me since I was drafted here, and I really have appreciated all of our conversations over the years with him and his lovely wife,” Rodgers said. “He was kind of enough to do my charity event a few years ago and I was able to do another charity event with him.

“It’s tough to follow him speaking because he’s had such incredible stories, whether he’s talking about Super Bowls or NFL championships or the Ice Bowl. It’s always fun being around him but he’s such a positive, encouraging person – it’ll be great to see him.”

Rodgers talked about the energy and fun that Favre exhibited when the two of them played together from 2005-2007.

“He brings a lot of energy to practice, enthusiasm,” Rodgers said. “He loved the game, loved being around it, especially loved playing on Sundays, and always brought great energy to the field. But he was a prankster as well. You know, he was part of putting my helmet on the table and everybody sign it and I had to go down to practice, with, you know, everybody had signed it, including myself on my own helmet.

“But then once they had, I realized, ‘That’s, you know, that’s got Favre’s and some other guys autographs – don’t wipe it off.’ I tried to get (equipment manager) Red Batty not to wipe off those autographs. But you know, you just kind of had to watch yourself sometimes around him because they’re always trying to incite some pranks, so you had to be careful.”

Rodgers also said any bad feelings between the two are long forgotten.

“It does feel like a long time ago,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s been a good proper healing process for everybody. Kind of starting with us on stage at the (NFL) Honors, getting to share some laughs together, and just going from there.

“It’s the right thing to do and it will be exciting for him and Packer fans in a couple days, and great to see him into the Hall of Fame next offseason.”

Starr, Favre and Rodgers have played a huge role in the storied history of the Packers.

Since they became a member of American Professional Football Association (later the NFL) in 1921, the Packers have won 13 NFL championships and four Super Bowls.

The Packers won six NFL titles under founder and head coach Curly Lambeau from 1929 through 1944.

After Lambeau and the Packers parted ways in 1950, the Packers really struggled until the hiring of head coach Vince Lombardi in 1959.

One of the people who gave a strong endorsement for Lombardi to the Packers was the founder and head coach of the Bears, George Halas.

In the 1960s under Lombardi, Starr led the Packers to five NFL titles in seven years, which includes the first two Super Bowls.

Starr was NFL MVP in 1966.

Starr was also the MVP in both Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II.

The former Alabama Crimson Tide star was 94-57-6 as a starting quarterback with the Packers and was an amazing 9-1 in the postseason.

No. 15 was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

The wins and postseason appearances were hard to find between the Starr era and the one that began in 1992 with the arrival of Favre.

Favre was acquired via a trade from the Atlanta Falcons by general manager Ron Wolf. The deal cost the Packers a first-round draft pick.

But the trade turned out to be well worth it, as Favre became a tremendous quarterback under the tutelage of head coach Mike Holmgren.

Favre had 160 wins over 16 seasons, with 96 of those wins occurring at Lambeau Field (.762 winning percentage).

The former Southern Miss gunslinger also started 253 straight games (275 including the postseason) for the Pack in his career in Green Bay.

Favre also threw 442 touchdown passes for 61,655 yards while he was a Packer and also won three straight NFL MVP awards in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

The Packers went to the postseason 11 times under Favre and won the NFC Central/North seven times.

The big prize was the victory in Super Bowl XXXI.

Rodgers took the reins at quarterback in 2008 after Favre and the Packers had a messy divorce. No. 12 has kept the winning ways of his predecessor intact.

Rodgers has a 77-36 record as a starting quarterback and has led the Packers to four straight NFC North crowns.

Rodgers has also led the Packers to six straight appearances in the postseason.

Like Favre, Rodgers has won multiple NFL MVP awards, as he won the honor in 2011 and 2014.

Rodgers also led the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XLV, when he was named MVP of that game.

The former California Golden Bear also has the highest passer-rating in the history of the NFL with a 105.6 mark.

It’s very apropos that the Packers are playing the Bears this Thanksgiving night. Not only because of the history between the two teams, but also because of the great success Starr, Favre and Rodgers have had versus Chicago.

In his career, Starr was 15-5 against the Bears.

Earlier this summer, Jerry Kramer told me a story about Starr when the Packers were facing the Bears early in the Lombardi era.

“We were playing the Chicago Bears,” Kramer said. “Bill George was their middle linebacker at the time. On a deep pass attempt, George thought he would try to intimidate Bart.

“Bill took about a five-yard run and he gave Bart a forearm right in the mouth. George timed it perfectly and put Bart right on his behind. He also cut Bart badly, from his lip all the way to his nose. After that, George said, ‘That ought to take care of you Starr, you pu**y.’ Bart snapped right back at George and said, ‘F— you, Bill George, we’re coming after you.’

“My jaw dropped after that exchange, as I was shocked. Meanwhile Bart was bleeding profusely. I told Bart that he better go to the sideline and get sewn up. Bart replied, ‘Shut up and get in the huddle.’

“Bart took us down the field in seven or eight plays and we scored. That series of plays really solidified Bart as our leader and we never looked back.”

Favre and Rodgers have also had a great deal of success against da Bears.

Favre was 22-10 versus Chicago in his career in Green Bay, while Rodgers has been even better than that. No. 12 is 12-3 against the Monsters of the Midway (plus 1-0 in the NFC title game).

In those 15 games against the Bears, Rodgers has thrown 34 touchdown passes versus just eight picks for 3,637 yards. That adds up to a very robust 111.6 passer rating.

In the 24 years that Favre and Rodgers have played against the Bears, the two have combined to have a 34-13 record versus Chicago.

The Packers have won 11 NFC Central/North titles during that time, plus have won two Super Bowls, while da Bears have won four NFC Central/North titles and lost a Super Bowl.

Bottom line, having Starr, Favre and Rodgers at Lambeau Field at the same time will be an unforgettable event. Especially knowing the health issues that Starr has been battling.

In September of 2014, Starr suffered a heart attack, two strokes and four seizures.

Earlier this fall, Ian O’Connor of ESPN wrote a heartwarming story about Starr and the nice progress he has been making with his health.

As O’Connor writes in his story, the ultimate goal for Starr is to be at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night.

Packer Nation, that epic event is just one day away.

One thought on “Greatness in Green Bay: Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers

  1. Pingback: Brett Favre: The Road to Canton | Bob Fox

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