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Bart Starr was ‘the boss’ but he was ‘such a gentleman’ – Green Bay Packers Blog

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Fans loved Bart Starr.

They loved him because as a quarterback he led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships.

Because of his sneak in the Ice Bowl.

Because he represented everything that was special about the team in the NFL’s smallest market.

Because he embodied the competitive spirit that was his coach, Vince Lombardi, during the glory years of the 1960s.

And they even loved him after a nine-year tenure as the team’s head coach that resulted in only one playoff appearance.

Bob Harlan loved him for an entirely different reason — the one that only those who knew Starr behind the scenes could fully articulate.

Harlan, a former Packers president, was in his early days with the organization when Starr was in the final year of his playing career. It was 1971, after all the championships had been won and after Lombardi was gone. Harlan joined the team as the assistant general manager. His primary job was to help negotiate player salaries.

“I actually signed Bart to his last contract,” Harlan recalled in an interview with ESPN.com. “In fact after five world championships, I gave him his all-time high salary of $100,000.”

That was Dan Devine’s first season as the Packers coach and Starr’s last as a player. Devine lasted three more years, posting only one winning season after Starr retired as a player.

It was Devine who hired Harlan away from baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, and when Devine was done in Green Bay, Harlan wondered if he, too, might be done.

“Dan was the one who hired me so when Dan left, I thought I might have trouble,” Harlan said. “And the day Bart was hired [in 1975], he called me at home and said, ‘I want you to help me and take over doing all the contracts.’

“I said, ‘Bart it’s going to be an honor to work for you.’ He said, ‘You won’t work for me, you’ll work with me.’ And that was just the way he handled things. He was the boss, but yet he was such a gentleman.”

Starr’s coaching tenure (1975-83) ended with a 52-76-3 record (and a 1-1 playoff mark).

“He just was so raw in the position; he probably got the job too early,” Harlan said. “In ’83 we were so close, and I think a couple more years — and he had been here nine years, but the fans weren’t really screaming about it — if he had a couple more years we weren’t that far away.”

Still, Starr’s coaching tenure had a lasting impact on the franchise in large part because of the impact it had on Harlan.

For Harlan, Starr served a model for how to run things at 1265 Lambeau Field. It was a treat-others-how-you-want-to-be-treated mentality, something that served Harlan throughout his presidency.

It was Harlan who, as president, oversaw the resurrection of the franchise in the early 1990s when he hired Ron Wolf as general manager, who then hired Mike Holmgren as head coach and traded for Brett Favre.

Just like Starr welcomed Harlan into the Packers’ family, Harlan made sure Starr remained a key figure in the organization. What other team not only had three iconic quarterbacks in Starr, Favre and Aaron Rodgers but also ensured the trio would have strong personnel connections?

Harlan made sure Starr was a regular presence at Lambeau Field, something players who followed cherished. Their tributes on Sunday shortly after Starr’s death at age 85 spoke not of football but of the same qualities that Harlan loved about Starr.

Rodgers, in an Instagram post, shared photos of Starr and simply added a heart in the comment section.

Indeed, Rodgers, who never saw Starr play or coach, loved the man for the same reason that Harlan did.



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Kyle Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen benefit from joint workouts

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They went to California trying to prepare for the season, as they did last year. Now, like the rest of America, these young NFL quarterbacks are just trying to get through each day.

The glamorous lives of the New York JetsSam Darnold, the Washington RedskinsKyle Allen and the Buffalo BillsJosh Allen include workouts that end around 1 p.m., followed by card games, video games and watching movies.

And lots of yawns.

“It’s pretty boring, I’ll be honest with you,” Kyle Allen told reporters on a conference call. “We play a ton of Gin, Call of Duty, and we get super bored. That’s about it.”

Allen said the group got together Feb. 1 in Orange County to prepare for the season with workouts, including weight training and throwing passes on the beach. They did this last year as well.

Kyle Allen told SI.com that he is living with Josh Allen — with both of their girlfriends — and Darnold lives about 15 minutes away. All three quarterbacks are training with former NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer.

The three quarterbacks lift together in a friend’s 40-square-foot garage. Allen said they make sure to practice social distancing as much as possible.

“Not much has changed. It’s just been a little harder to find a place to throw or find a place to work out,” Kyle Allen said. “We’re getting good work in and trying to adapt to all of this, like everyone else is.”

The Allen combination might have to move in with Darnold, as their lease expires this week. They did not plan to stay longer than April, as teams — in a normal year — would have resumed workouts by then. Kyle Allen told SI.com that he doesn’t want to return home to Arizona because one of his mother’s coworkers tested positive for COVID-19, and his mother is now in the midst of a 14-day quarantine.

However, Allen said the quarterbacks can benefit from this time together, though of course, they didn’t need a quarantine for that to happen.

“That’s why we like to train with each other,” Allen said on the conference call. “We talk to each other about our experiences. We have film nights at our houses and are breaking down film and talking through different things. We’re having really good conversations.”

Kyle Allen learned of his trade to Washington from Carolina while holed up in California — and about a week after, he briefly returned to Carolina to sign a one-year extension. For Allen, the trade means a reunion with coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner. Allen started 12 games for the Panthers last season.

He gives the Redskins another young quarterback to pair with second-year player Dwayne Haskins, whom Rivera said would enter camp as the starter. The two quarterbacks have exchanged texts since the trade.

Allen said that after talking to Rivera, the “expectation is to come in and compete for the job. That’s an awesome opportunity.”

Allen gives the Redskins a safety net from someone who knows the offense. Haskins must learn Turner’s system without the benefit of a regular offseason. Allen said it took him a good month and a half to learn the offense in Carolina to the point that he felt comfortable running it in practice.

“The continuity with the system is huge for me, and I think it’s going to be big for the team, too,” Allen said. “If we don’t have a lot of OTAs or don’t have OTAs at all, it gives at least someone on the team a chance with experience in the system to be able to teach it to the other guys.”

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Browns sign veteran DE Adrian Clayborn to 2-year deal

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The Cleveland Browns have signed veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn to a two-year deal, his agency announced Tuesday.

Clayborn, 31, who played in 15 games with the Atlanta Falcons last year, will be entering his 10th season in the NFL.

The Browns have been on the hunt for an experienced pass rusher to help flank All-Pro Myles Garrett along their defensive line.

Clayborn is a former first-round draft pick who spent his first four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has 36.5 career sacks.

Clayborn rejoined the Falcons for a second stint last season after playing with the New England Patriots in 2018. He worked primarily as a situational pass-rusher and finished last season with four sacks and two forced fumbles while starting just one game.

Regarded as a popular locker room presence, Clayborn recorded a career-best 9.5 sacks with the Falcons in 2017. That same season, he revealed that he seriously considered retirement, but his wife talked him out of it.

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure contributed to this report.

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Bryan Bulaga disappointed by how many players didn’t vote on CBA

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New Los Angeles Chargers tackle Bryan Bulaga voiced his disappointment Tuesday over how many fellow players decided not to vote on the new labor agreement with the NFL.

The collective bargaining agreement was approved by only a 60-vote margin (1,019 to 959) with nearly 22% of the eligible players electing not to cast a ballot.

“I’m very confused why so many guys didn’t vote. It was a big deal,” Bulaga said during a conference call to discuss his signing with Los Angeles. He did not say how he voted.

“The CBA isn’t something we’re voting on for ourselves. It’s a big decision, and to see so many guys not vote is disheartening.”

Bulaga said he liked to stay current with the progress of talks because of his friendship with Cleveland Browns center and new NFL Players Association president JC Tretter. Bulaga and Tretter were teammates in Green Bay from 2013 to 2018.

While the new CBA increases the percentage of revenues given to players and upgrades pensions, it will allow the NFL to add a regular-season game, though not before the 2021 season. Many prominent players loudly opposed the deal, including Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The new CBA is set to begin with the upcoming season and goes through 2030. Free-agent safety Eric Reid is challenging the CBA’s validity due to language added following its ratification on March 15.

“Regardless of how it went, it probably would have been encouraging if more guys voted. It’s interesting and unfortunate,” said Bulaga, who will be going into his 11th NFL season. “Guys are able to do what they want.”

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