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Showing 1-10 of 31 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 52 reviews
VINE VOICEon July 16, 2015
Biographies of sports heroes usually come in one of two forms. The first is a very shallow, quick, surficial look at the life and sporting career trying to earn a few dollars on the fame of a particular player. The other is a truly in-depth look and accounting of the life and times of that sports hero. This biography is clearly in the second category. It does a phenomenal job of bringing Bart Starr to life for the reader.

Starr’s early life was marred by the death of his brother and subsequently was estranged from his father. He became a star football player in high school but even there struggled with injuries but by his senior year was an All American. Unlike most star athletes, however, he was more introverted and self-reflective.

Being an Alabama high school football star he wound up at the University of Alabama. There he was an on again off again starter and after a back injury his junior year he hardly played as a senior. His pro football prospects certainly seemed dim.

With recommendations from Alabama’s basketball coach Green Bay selected Starr in the 17th round of the 1956 NFL draft.

Again Starr started out as a back-up and then as an on again, off again starter for the Green Bay Packers. When Vince Lombardi took over as coach of the Packers in 1959 it took some time for him to win over the coach’s trust as the starting quarterback, but he eventually did. And the rest is a glorious history of championship football as the starting quarterback for arguable the greatest dynasty in NFL history.

One of the best parts of the biography for football fans is of course Starr’s role as the leader of the Green Bay Packers from 1960 to 1971, with five NFL championships, two of which were Super Bowl’s I and II. This is a superlative career in an era where quarterbacks called their own plays and defensive backs could mug receivers down the field.

The book does a fantastic job of detailing Starr’s early struggles and his overcoming those struggles to become the undisputed field general and leader of the team other than Lombardi. It also details his unique relationship with the tough minded Vince Lombardi who ultimately embraced Starr as his quarterback and trusted him in the most critical on-field situations. While there were a lot of great moments for the team the infamous Ice Bowl where Starr changed the play and called a quarterback sneak to win the NFL championship against the Dallas Cowboys in one of the coldest games every played was thrilling relayed in the book. And the pressure on the coach to win the first Super Bowl, and the second one is well told here.

This biography also brings out Starr’s unique qualities as a human being. A very modest, honest, player who didn’t curse or go carousing with the guys, he nevertheless earned the respect of the players around him. The biography really brings out this humble side of Starr and how it juxtaposed to that of his bombastic head coach and other players. But he was a very tough competitor on the field, demanding the respect of all around him, including that of his head coach.

Another endearing quality to Starr’s life is he married his high school sweetheart and love of this life Cherry Morton and remained a faithful husband. The love affair between these two is interwoven through the biography and is refreshing.

After his career he jumped into coaching and broadcasting. He eventually became the head coach of a then struggling Green Bay Packers team from 1975 to 1983. Unfortunately his stint as a head coach did not go quite like his football career. He ended up with a 52-76-3 record as a head coach and the pressures of the job, especially after such a fantastic run as a player, was difficult. He even admitted he probably was initially in over his head but did not want to quit.

And finally a tragedy. Starr lost his son to drug abuse in 1988 after Starr and his wife constantly did everything to help him overcome the demon. He eventually moved to Florida and fell back into his drug habit. After not hearing from his son Bart flew to Florida and found him dead in his house. This was obviously a very tragic and painful time in Bart Starr’s life.

The only quibble I have with the book is the claim that Bart Starr is the greatest quarterback in NFL history. With his five NFL championships and great record as a player, the author makes a great argument. I am not sure where I would place Bart Starr and he deserves to be mentioned as one of the greatest of all time but I would not place him at the top. But I did enjoy the statistics are arguments on his behalf.

Any football fan will enjoy this well written and thoughtful biography of one the greatest quarterbacks of all time, one of the winningest quarterbacks of all time, and one of the humblest and good natured athletes of all time.
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on November 14, 2011
There have been previous biographies of Bart Starr, but this effort by author Keith Dunnavant vastly exceeds the others. It contains 324 pages of text and gives interesting details covering all facets of his football career at all levels. Successful people can usually look back in their lives and point out individuals who have helped them during crucial periods in their development. Bart Starr was blessed with such individuals who believed in him. Starr didn't have the most talent among several quarterbacks throughout his career, but what led to his being successful was the self-discipline he possessed. Having come from a family with a father in the military Starr learned at an early age the price one needed to pay to achieve success.

The book contains game details of the Packers' glory years in addition to the post-Lombardi years where Starr struggled both as a player and a coach. Tragedy strikes people in all walks of life and Starr experienced the loss of a son through drugs. The tragic loss of other family members by other teammates are related as well.

A devote family man Bart Starr always had time for others whether it was for signing autographs, a few minutes of conversation, or a worthy cause such as the Rawhide Boys Ranch. He was loved by the fans, but equally important, he loved them back. It was also refreshing to read a biography of a sports' hero that isn't laced with profanities. A previous biography of Bart Starr came out a few years ago, but it quoted too much from David Maraniss's book entitled "When Pride Still Mattered."

I did find one glaring misquote on page 250 where former coach Lombardi was in the Starr household outside of Green Bay in nearby DePere. Lombardi complimented the Starrs on their home, whereas Bart's wife Cherry says, "This house never would have been possible with you, because you believed in Bart and gave him an opportunity." Suddenly Lombardi's eyes welled up in tears. The quote should obviously have read, "This house never would have been possible without you."

I found the book to be a refreshing read in reliving those glamorous years when the Packers ruled in the 1960s after those pathetic years during the 1950s. Although I no longer follow professional football it was great to read about so many of those names from that time period in addition to reviewing the other riveting events that took place during those turbulent sixties. You need not be a football fan or a fan of the Packers to enjoy this biography. I am neither, but I found it to be interesting having been a fan during this time period.
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on April 21, 2014
I really enjoyed reading this book. Now I have to be honest with you and let you know I am a die-hard Packer fan from way back in the 60's. I used to wear Bart's jersey and helmet when my friends and I would play a game of football after the real game. So with that being said I know my opinion here is biased, but here goes.

Kevin Dunnavant makes this book a very easy read. Kevin writes about Bart's entire life from his early years including his interaction with his father and brother, through his school years, then his NFL playing days, also his Packers coaching days and then post-coaching days. It was one of those books I could not put down. Kevin did a great job of bringing Bart's life alive for me. It is amazing how the 17th round draft pick out of Alabama (he played before the days of Bear Bryant and yes they did have 17 rounds then) would wind up on a struggling NFL team (some were questioning if the Packers should even be an NFL team anymore being in such a small market). You see how Bart's upbringing as a child drove him to excel at everything he did. All he needed was a leader to take him to that next level (i.e. step in Vince Lombardi). We all know how Bart excelled on the playing field winning 5 world championships and the book does an excellent job of portraying Bart in the rise to excellence. What I found fascinating was reading of Bart's coaching days at Green Bay. People don't give Bart enough credit for his coaching days even though his record doesn't indicate that he was a great coach. Kevin describes what Bart had to go through to get his Green Bay team back to the winning ways, which was very difficult after picking up the broken pieces left over from the Dan Devine coaching disaster. If Bart could have landed a quality player here or there to add to his squad though out the years as he wanted to, I believe the Packers would have excelled in the 80's. The Green Bay Packers Board of Directors at times did not help the situation either.

I have already lent the book to relatives who have also enjoyed reading the book.

I believe Bart is one of the most underrated quarterbacks of all time. The glimmer of Johnny Unitas always overshadowed Bart's, especially back in the 60's and I believe it still does today. Bart showed what it takes to win championships that no other quarterback has ever replicated up to today. I don't think his record for championships will ever be broken. You add in Bart's great character and you have an even better individual. A few current NFL players could take a cue from Bart's behavior and character. The NFL needs more players like Bart Starr!!
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on October 14, 2011
I am a 59 yr old native of New England (born in CT, now in NH for 28+ yrs)
I never lived in Wisconsin.
During the last stock sale, I became one of the 112,000+ owners of the Green Bay Packers.
I have traveled to Lambeau for 5 games and one shareholder meeting since 1990.

I often tell people, if you are a football fan, Lambeau Field is EVERYTHING you think it is.
People as experienced in NFL culture as John Madden do not become giddy about just any venue.

I have just finished this book about my boyhood hero, Bart Starr.
The book solidly confirms my choice at age 12 to regard Bart Starr as a proper role model and true athletic hero.
The reason I became a Packer fan is due to Bart Starr's talent and leadership on Lombardi's dynasty team.

The are 2 reasons the Super Bowl trophy is named Lombardi:
1. Lombardi himself and
2. Bart Starr

This book is incredibly detailed and extremely well researched.
It is PACKED with interesting anecdotes about the life of the man who (as the book makes the case) can be considered the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
It is also a (well deserved) 'love letter' to the finest MAN who ever wore a football uniform on any field, anywhere.
I really took my time reading this book, because the sights and sounds of the greatest team in football history mingled with the events and attitudes of the era, and then added details about a man whose greatness helped define that time in the NFL.

But I also took my time because I often had to set the book down after being choked up with emotion when reflecting on this great man and his accomplishments.
For example, if you see the book on the shelf at a store, pick it up and read page 156.
I guarantee you buy the book right after reading it.

So to paraphrase myself, if you are a football fan READ THIS BOOK.
If you are a Packer fan (or any other knowledgeable football fan), Bart Starr is EVERYTHING you think he is - tough, competitive, honest, genuine, with an unmatched heart and golden soul.

And when all is said and done he is also - AMERICA'S QUARTERBACK!!
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on March 9, 2015
Only because I knew Bart . . . Here is a wonderful anecdote. Bart was going to give a speech for the Key Club at the Northland Hotel in Green Bay. He wanted to use the words to the Beatle song "Nowhere Man' - as his way to reach this audience. I worked in a music/record/photography store in Green Bay - Stillers - just around the corner from the hotel. There was a songbook which contained the words but no sheet music. So - he did not want to buy the songbook . . . I volunteered to type the words to the song on our trusty Underwood typewriter. He waited patiently - glancing at his watch every so often . . while I plunked away at a slow but steady speed. Finally - "Ta-Da" - done - He thanked me profusely and ran out the door - minutes away from his introduction to the group. What a nice man!
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on March 14, 2017
One of my favorite biographies. And if you are a Packer fan, it will be right up there with "Instant Replay" by Jerry Kramer. If you are not a Packer fan, you will still love this story about a man who is a role model for all men.
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on August 28, 2012
If Bart Starr moved to Aurstralia tomorrow, no one there would ever know that he is the winningest Super bowl quarterback of all time. They would not even know that he played pro football. Therein lies the strength of Starr - he is a humble, hard-working, caring man who would never do anything that would lead one to think of him as anybody other than the guy who lives next door. This book is about so much more than football, although there is plenty of that - it is about doing the right thing, day after day. Whether Starr stops to pick up a stray dog in the rain, or gives a ride to a hitchhiker, or gets involved in a Ranch for homeless boys, or lends his name to a good cause, or gives credit for his success to those around him, or makes ordinary people feel like a million dollars, or signs every autograph for every fan, or forgives those who have made his life tougher than it should have been, Starr comes across, without being showy or ostentatious, as a man who oozes style and leadership. His leadership qualities were vital components toward making the Packers into a powerhouse. Although it is widely held that Lombardi made the Packers into what they became, without Starr Lombardi would have been good, but mayble not great. Lombardi early on did just about everything he could to find a replacement for Starr, but eventually came to appreciate him as the main cog in the Packer gear. Starr's results and statistics, especially in big games, bear out that Starr was a GREAT quarterback. There is a quote in the book that I especially like, because on its face it sounds so odd to be associated with Starr - that Starr was "the most clutch and CRUELLY efficeint passing ASSASIN of his or any other generation."

Some teensy complaints to keep this review from becoming a whitewash - either the author or editor should have known that Frank Ryan did not quarterback the Giants, Alex Karras and Johnny Robinson were not linebackers, and Otis Taylor was not a fullback.
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on February 2, 2012
A truly superb book about a truly superb man AND football player. I grew up in the early-mid 1960's. Then, as now, I was an avid Green Bay Packer fan. Which meant I was a huge Bart Starr fan, as well. It's nice to know those intense feelings were well-founded. You truly get more than just a glimpse of what made Starr tick, and how his upbringing along with the serendipitous hiring of coach Vince Lombardi led to Bart's maturation as a QB, and as a human being. He was and continues to be a total class act. You will find yourself cheering for him, if not for the football results, then for his circumstances throughout his life. As a father who has also experienced the loss of a son, I thoroughly was engrossed in the story of his relationship to his son and how he handled his boy's death. A terrific, TERRIFIC read. A gave it 4 stars rather than 5 simply because the editing was quite lacking in one area. On what seemed like every 2-3 pages there was a prepositional word missing or used twice consecutively. It did not particularly detract from my enjoyment of the book, but was quite surprising considering the magnificent way the author weaved the chronology of Starr's life.
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on December 7, 2011
This review is being written by a Green Bay Packers fan and a season ticket holder. Although I did not attend the Ice Bowl at Lambeau Field and watched the first NFL and AFL championship game while serving in the military I have always been a fan of Bart Starr. He is the ultimate team player. He has stood tall even after his dismissal of the Green Bay Packers head coach. He can stand along side Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi and Bob Harlan (retired President of the Green Bay Packers).

This is an excellent book for anyone that follows NFL young and old and for everyone that enjoys reading about people that are and will always be a class act. He is a devoted Packers fan and has a statue on Bart Starr Plaza located just steps away from Lambeau Field.

Bart Starr was the Green Bay Packers flag bearer for the season opener against the New Orleans Saints. He always receives that largest applause and cheers when players are introduced at the fall alumni game.
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on June 30, 2013
I liked the book just fine. Bart Starr was one of the greatest QB's in NFL History. I think the book covered some areas that were never covered before about Bart Starr. The thing I didn't like about the book was the author kept referring to politics and that Starr supported the Republican Party. I could care less about Bart Starr's political preference. This part of a very good book agitated me. The author should keep his and Bart Starr's politics to himself.
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