America’s Quarterback


Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press
(Hardcover)
New York
2011

St. Martin’s Griffin (Paperback)
New York
2012

No quarterback in the history of the National Football League can match Bart Starr’s record of achievement. In an unprecedented seven-season run from 1961-67, Starr led Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowl titles, earning 2 Super Bowl MVPs while revolutionizing the position and laying the foundation for the quarterbacks of today. Yet until now this quiet man’s remarkable career has often been obscured by the enormity of the Lombardi mystique.

Acclaimed author Keith Dunnavant brings Starr’s dramatic journey to life in vivid detail, sketching the definitive portrait of an iconic figure who defined the quarterback position during the 1960s, when professional football stormed out of the shadows to capture the nation’s imagination.

Utilizing dozens of interviews with Starr and his contemporaries, Dunnavant brings a historian’s eye for detail to his meticulously crafted narrative, tracing the quarterback’s overachieving career from high school in Montgomery, Alabama, to the University of Alabama, to Green Bay, where he landed as a 17th-round draft pick. In the process, he chronicles the NFL’s rapid transformation from afterthought to national obsession against the backdrop of a very different age in American culture.

America’s Quarterback is a revealing story about the tension between a player and a coach as different as fire and ice, and how they came to trust and admire each other. Dunnavant shows how the tenacious Starr learned how to harness his intelligence and his burning desire to win while maturing into a masterful play-caller who set a new standard for passing efficiency, achieving a level of success unsurpassed by subsequent quarterbacks.

But this is more than a football book. It is also a story about the bond between fathers and sons and how two family tragedies caused Starr enormous pain, tested his strength and ultimately revealed his true character. It is a very American story about the transformative power of ambition, attitude and persistence.

A remarkable blend of personal memory and historical narrative, America’s Quarterback is a compelling biography of an American hero and the perfect companion to the classic When Pride Still Mattered.

Praise for America’s Quarterback

“This is one of the best sports history books you will read. It’s the story of a remarkable man and a fascinating time. Bart Starr and the Green Bay Packers led the way in the 1960s when pro football became America’s favorite sport. But it is much more than a football story. Bart Starr is a great man who has handled adversity, triumph and tragedy with unique dignity. Bart’s story has a lot to teach us about life. You will enjoy spending time with this well-crafted book and getting to know Bart Starr in a whole new way.”

—NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

“The most important pro football book this season…Dunnavant’s account of the final drive [in the Ice Bowl] is almost more exciting than watching the replay…”

—Allen Barra, Dallas Morning News

“[Dunnavant’s] brilliant rendition of the Ice Bowl…is an engrossing climax to an era and a career…”

Publishers Weekly

“The Green Bay Packers—a formative fable of the National Football League—would not have been possible without Bart Starr. But Keith Dunnavant has done more than restore the quarterback’s place in the sport’s history. This biography isn’t merely definitive. It’s an ode to stoicism, modesty and discipline—the virtues that made the Packers’ dynasty.”

—Mark Kriegel, New York Times bestselling author of Namath and Pistol

“Dunnavant has written an absolute masterpiece. This is both a compelling and riveting tale of one of the nicest men who ever played the game, but one of the most important and influential. Even though I have known Bart for more than twenty years, having interviewed him countless times, I learned something new on nearly every page. Hands down, the best sports book of the year. It may be the best sports book I have read in many years.”

—Paul Finebaum, radio talk-show host

“Keith Dunnavant’s bold, stirring biography argues that Bart Starr is the NFL’s greatest quarterback ever. Allowing no room for debate, Dunnavant shows that Starr was the indispensable man in the creation of the Green Bay Packers dynasty.”

—Dave Kindred, author of Morning Miracle: Inside the Washington Post

“Keith Dunnavant perfectly captures the essence and the understated elegance of the icon that is Bart Starr. But Dunnavant gives us much, much more. Through painstaking research and intimate detail, which are the hallmarks of his books, Dunnavant gives us the uniquely American story of how a man, through the sheer force of his will and his dedication to excellence, rises from modest circumstances to reach the top of his profession. We learn that Starr has lived his life the same way that he played football: With a quiet dignity that allows him to survive and prevail when faced with both the good and the bad. If you liked When Pride Still Mattered, the great biography of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss, you must read America’s Quarterback. Dunnavant has another winner!”

—Tony Barnhart, CBS Sports

“Bart Starr’s story is almost mythic in its retelling. A young boy buffeted by tragedy, defeat and failure never stopped trying to prove himself. When he reached the top, success failed to turn his head. Starr stands for the values that America once held dear: hard work, self-discipline, simple kindness, the ability to take a sack, get back up and throw again. In today’s America, Starr wouldn’t preen, he wouldn’t date models or show up in the tabloids. But one thing he would do in today’s America is win. America’s Quarterback tells a story that today’s America needs to hear.”

—Ivan Maisel, ESPN

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