Monday, February 05, 2007

Sports Illustrated: Sept. 25, 1961

The first appearance of the Packers on the cover of Sports Illustrated occurred in the September 25, 1961 issue, with Bart Starr and the caption “Year of the Quarterback.” In an article briefly describing the NFL’s young QB’s, the magazine states: “... the slower but just as sure maturing of Bart Starr, now in his sixth year, makes Green Bay the favorite in the West.”

“Starr did not take over as Green Bay quarterback on a full-time basis until the close of last season (the Packers lost to the Eagles in the 1960 Championship game). ‘It takes a long time to become oriented,’ Starr says, ‘It takes years before you can recognize and diagnose a defense almost instantly. And it takes nearly that much time before you know your receivers intimately. Anything I can say about the importance of knowing every move a receiver makes would be an understatement.’ ”

“Starr is a very bright football player who learns quickly; there were some stories that he was a Phi Beta Kappa at Alabama, but they were not true. ‘My wife says I would have been if we’d gotten married sooner,’ Starr says.”

Other young quarterbacks mentioned in the article are the Eagles’ Sonny Jurgenson, the Cowboys’ Don Meredith, and the 49ers’ Billy Kilmer. In the Pro Football preview section, the Packers were described as “surprise champions of the West, who will surprise no one if they repeat as champions in 1961. This is probably the soundest team in football...”

They knew what they were talking about as the Packers beat the Giants 37-0 that year for the championship in Green Bay — the first championship game played in what became known as “Titletown.”