Packers’ James Starks Was Almost A Chicago Bear
The lore surrounding Packers’ running back James Starks continues to grow. Already dubbed the next superstar in Green Bay by the loyal fan base, Starks’ NFL debut was very close to starting in a different city.
Starks began his NFL career on the Physically Unable to Perform list, delaying his debut until week 13 against the San Francisco 49ers. After only appearing in 3 regular-season games, and logging 29 rushes for 101 yards and no touchdowns, the rookie out of Buffalo played an integral role in the Packers victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the first-round of the 2010 playoffs. His 23 carries for 123 yards was only the second 100-yard rushing performance by a Packers running back this season.
But Starks’ ascension to Green and Gold glory almost never materialized. Former Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears, Greg Gabriel, revealed how Bears’ general manager Jerry Angelo decided to draft quarterback Dan LeFevour over James Starks at the last minute.
I was on the phone for a minute or so with Starks when Angelo walked in my office and told me he had changed his mind and was drafting LeFevour. I put Starks on hold and then said to Angelo that Stein had already talked to the agent and I had the player on the phone…we couldn’t do business like that. He said he was sorry but he decided he wanted LeFevour and the card had been turned in.
James Starks certainly has a long road ahead of him as he tries to prove himself as an NFL running back, but he already has the humility of a seasoned veteran. In reference to last Sunday’s performance, he told reporters that “it was a total team effort.” Starks added that he does not know how much playing time he will log against the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday, but he knows what he needs to do from an individual standpoint.
“I don’t know really what they’re going to do,” Starks said. “We’ve got a lot of weapons on this team. I mean, I’m just a rookie. I’m just going to do my part, go out there, work hard and give my all.”
On Sunday and in the ensuing years, Starks will be given an opportunity to make his mark in this league. And thanks to Packers’ general manager Ted Thompson, that story will be written in Green Bay, Wisconsin.