Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 59: The Head Hog

The Head Hog

George Starke '71 came to Columbia in 1967 fully expecting to be through with football withing a couple years and concentrating on his studies and big-time career plans after that.

It didn't turn out that way.

A heavily recruited lineman, Starke got offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Illinois, Syracuse and Virginia before deciding that Columbia was the best place for him because he expected to quit sports anyway.

Two years later, he was the Lions biggest lineman at 245 pounds, doubling as the starting center on the nationally-ranked basketball team, and lobbying hard for the tight end job that he finally convinced Head Coach Frank Navarro to give him for the 1969 season.

Starke's senior season was his best, creating great running lanes outside the numbers and grabbing 11 passes for 185 yards. He just missed out on the spectacular 1971 season, but many Columbia insiders say he was one of the players who helped pave the way.

He was drafted by the Redskins in the 11th round, released and then finally made it back to the team for the '72 season.

He was still starting for the offensive line in 1982 when the Skins won their first Super Bowl title and he became the leader of the famous "Hogs."

I interviewed George during halftime of the Towson game last year and he lived up to his reputation as a great conversationalist. He also spent most of the interview rubbing his obviously oft-operated on leg, which was clearly aching in the damp weather that evening.

Today Starke runs the Excel Institute, which he founded. It's a school with a training program that provides $20,000 in annual scholarships for vocational training in the field of automotive technology for at-risk youth and adults. It's not a hand out, but a place where people learn a trade. What a concept!


At Fri Jul 24, 01:08:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

Great recap on Starke's career Jake.
What are the odds that an 11th round
draft pick from Columbia, gets recast
as an interior O-lineman and starts for a Superbowl winning team?
Have any other Lions been on NFL teams that earned championship rings?

At Fri Jul 24, 05:24:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

There was a Chicago Bear, a center to the best of my memory, from Dartmouth during one of the Bears' long-ago championship runs.

And there was of course Calvin Hill of Yale during a period of great Dallas Cowboy teams, though whether they actually won an NFL title during Hill's tenure escapes me.

At Fri Jul 24, 09:20:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sid Luckman comes to mind .


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