John Beck: A Starr in the making?

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John Beck has now played in nine NFL games, and his team has lost every one. He was 0-5 (with four starts) as a rookie with the 2007 Dolphins, and he’s 0-4 (with three starts) with the Redskins this season. Which raises the question: Has any quarterback ever gotten off to a start like this and gone on to have success?

Well, I can think of one: Bart Starr, the Packers Hall of Famer.

In 1956, Green Bay drafted Starr in the 17th round with the 200th pick. But it wasn’t until Nov. 22, 1959 – when the Packers shut out the Redskins 21-0 at Lambeau Field (then City Stadium) – that he quarterbacked a win from beginning to end. It was his 21st NFL start.

Oh, he’d contributed to a few victories – three in all, plus a tie – but he wasn’t considered the quarterback of record in those games. (Teams rotated QBs a lot more back then. In his first few seasons, Starr split time with Tobin Rote, Babe Parilli and Lamar McHan.)

Here’s an excerpt from Art Daley’s story in Green Bay Press-Gazette on the Packers-Redskins tilt:

It, undeniably, was a big day for Bart Starr, his first “personal” victory since coming to the NFL from Alabama in 1956, but he accepted it with surprising calm – which may be the final mark of professional maturity for the Packers’ erstwhile hard luck guy.

“That’s some record, isn’t it?” he snorted. “Be around four years and one victory.”

What changed for Starr and the Packers in 1959, of course, was that Vince Lombardi took over as coach. They went to the championship game the following year under Lombardi, then won five of the next seven titles (as well as the first two Super Bowls). And the quarterback of this club, arguably the greatest of all time, was Bart Starr, who didn’t get his first “personal” victory in the NFL until his 21st start.

So that’s today’s dollop of hope for despairing Redskins fans: You just never know. Do you think, in November 1959, anybody in Green Bay thought Bart Starr would become, well, Bart Starr?

One more thing: In Starr’s senior year in college, his Alabama team went 0-10 (and scored a grand total of 48 points).

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About the Author
Dan Daly

Dan Daly

Dan Daly has been writing about sports for the Washington Times since 1982. He has won numerous national and local awards, appears regularly in NFL Films’ historical features and is the co-author of "The Pro Football Chronicle,” a decade-by-decade history of the game. Follow Dan on Twitter at @dandalyonsports –- or e-mail him at ddaly@washingtontimes.com.

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