Bart Starr: Honoring the Sports Veteran On A Memorable Memorial Day

Bart Starr
Bart Starr: 1934 – 2019

How sad and yet how fitting is it that Bart Starr, the sports veteran many never knew, but we all knew of, passed away on Memorial Day. His fame stretched far and his fans spread wide. And his fans, both in and outside of Green Bay, loved him.

“They loved him because as a quarterback he led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships. They loved him because he represented everything that was special about the team in the NFL’s smallest market. And they even loved him after his nine-year tenure as the team’s head coach that resulted in only one playoff appearance. And most of all, they loved him because he embodied the competitive spirit that was his coach, Vince Lombardi, during the glory years of the 1960s.”

Here’s a very nice tribute to the legend from Sports Illustrated:

“Legendary Packers quarterback Bart Starr is among the most celebrated quarterbacks in NFL history. He won Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II in his 16-year career under center in Green Bay. However, Starr’s tenure as the Packers’ head coach was less celebrated with a 52–76–3 record over nine seasons.

Starr took the criticism of his coaching in stride, according to a letter obtained by The MMQB’s Andrew Brandt on Tuesday following Starr’s death at the age of 85. The Green Bay legend penned a response to Dan Clumper of Eau Claire, Wisc. in 1976 and even thanked Clumper for his notes on the state of the franchise.

‘We are sorry to lose you as a fan of course, but what is sadder is the example you are setting for your own sons,’ Starr wrote. ‘I hope, while you are re-directing their young minds in the future, you will include tolerance so that when you occasionally err or unintentionally disappoint them, they will not lose their faith in you. May your sons always excel and enjoy the numerous rewards of athletic competition.'”

Rest in peace, Bart Starr.

Veterans and Rookies

Kareem and Magic

Veterans and rookies. Sometimes they don’t get along, and most times they don’t speak the same language. But they need each other. A striking example of this is the twosome of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Magic came into the League in 1980 and, in his rookie season, won an NBA Championship with Kareem.  Kareem was a wiry veteran who had already won, but was hungry for more. His old legs and winded spirit needed a boost. And he got a big boost in the person of Magic. The two went on to win 5 titles, and this tandem and the rest of the L.A. Lakers were nicknamed “Showtime” because of their flashy style and their dashy play.


Kareem and Magic were the perfect veteran-rookie combination of creative tension. Part of their mystic and charm lie in this creative tension – the creative tension between their ages and their positions allowed each to compliment the other, as both could learn and teach the other a thing or two. This duo dominated professional basketball in the ‘80s, as they were a force to be reckoned with. 

Likewise, there are tandems of veteran-rookie generational tag-teams in Scripture. Moses and Joshua.  Elijah and Elisha.  David and Solomon. Naomi and Ruth.  Paul and Timothy.  These pairs are examples of a savvy veteran balanced with a spirited rookie; an old-hand and a newbie; a professor and a pupil.  Every great team has this pair, and each team and generation needs to pass down its experience and expertise to the next.   

Veterans have the advantage of experience and rookies have the advantage of youth.  Coupled together, this combination can be a bona-fide lean, mean, winning machine.  The Bible says that “one can chase one thousand, and two can put ten thousand to flight”   The power of cross generational unity cannot be overstated.

Likewise, in our present day, we should look to couple the veteran with the rookie.  Both will benefit; both will gain; both will profit.  At home, work or play; in church, in government, in education, in medicine, the veteran and the rookie should be so tied together that they are inseparable.  Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, each and all have something to learn from the other.

Veterans and rookies; rookies and veterans.  In sports these two go hand in hand, and so it is, or at least should be, with life. So if you are Moses, who is your Joshua? If you are Naomi, who is your Ruth?  If you are Timothy, who is your Paul? Find and link with the mate you must teach and learn from; hang on to them for dear life, and don’t let them go.

Your success depends on it.