The NFL is teeming with tough dudes at the peak of their athletic powers. Perhaps none of them, though, are as indestructible as a frail retiree who helped put the league on the map 50 years ago.
Bart Starr, the Green Bay legend who led the Packers to five championships between 1956 and 1971, is recovering from a broken hip suffered three days before Christmas after he fell in the bathroom. Starr’s family issued a statement through the Packers on Saturday, saying the Hall of Fame quarterback, who turned 82 today, is on his way to a full recovery.
“Thankfully, it is a minor break and surgery was not necessary,” the statement reads. “He will be in a wheelchair for six weeks. He is doing great now. He has no complaints of pain and is in good spirits. It is a bit of a setback, but we are confident he will have a quick and full recovery.”
Starr began showing signs of short-term memory loss five years ago, but greater adversity met him in September 2014. In just a few days he suffered a stroke, then a heart attack, a second stroke and a series of seizures. He was hospitalized for two-and-a-half months and lost 20 pounds, eventually improving enough to travel to Tijuana, Mexico, for a stem cell treatment.
But a bronchial infection derailed Starr’s progress, causing his temperature to flare and his heart rate to spike at 200 beats per minute. The hearty septuagenarian somehow recovered from that ordeal and is currently rebounding from a second stem cell treatment.
Starr, the MVP of Super Bowls I and II, returned to Green Bay on Thanksgiving night last year to take part in Brett Favre’s number retirement ceremony.
“Coming back to Green Bay for Brett’s special day was great medicine for Bart and was a truly magical moment,” the statement said. “The welcome he received will always be one of our most treasured memories. We give many thanks to all of our loyal friends and fans for your outpouring of love and support. You will always have a special place in our hearts.”