Rookie running back James Starks was drafted out of Buffalo with the 193rd pick by the Green Bay Packers, only after he was shafted at the last second by the Chicago Bears. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears had decided they were going to take Starks with 181st pick and had already begun negotiations with his agent. Bears’ former director of college scouting, Greg Gabriel, says he was on the phone explaining rookie minicamp to Starks when general manager Jerry Angelo informed him they would be picking quarterback Dan LeFevour instead of Starks:
I then had to tell the player (a player that I had developed a good relationship with over the previous two years) that in fact we were not drafting him. Hearing a kid go from being extremely excited to silence was not easy. It was the most embarrassing moment I had experienced while scouting. In my mind everything is about integrity, and I felt our integrity had been damaged.”
Gabriel should be embarrassed, but more for Angelo than himself. Gabriel was doing what he was supposed to be doing, when Angelo essentially forced him into being the bad guy. I understand that the NFL is a business and Angelo was doing what he thought was best for his team and he certainly is allowed to change his mind, but integrity has to mean something. It obviously does to Gabriel, and I’m sure it does to Starks now if it didn’t before.
In this weekend’s NFC Championship Game in Chicago, Starks will get the opportunity to avenge the slight, but it won’t be easy. Starks will be up against a Bears defense that allowed just 34 rushing yards against the Seahawks this past weekend. Starks himself has not had a standout year — really just one standout game — but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had his best game so far on Sunday.
Even if Starks doesn’t have a great day or his Packers don’t make it to the Super Bowl, he can at least say that he helped his team this far, while the guy the Bears took instead of him, LeFevour, will be watching from his couch. LeFevour was cut by the Bears before the regular season and picked up by the Bengals. I, for one, will be rooting for Starks.Google+