James Starks

Starks almost wasn't a Packer.

Green Bay Packers rookie running back James Starks is getting a bit of attention after running for 123 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild card round.

As Greg Gabriel, former director of college scouting for the Chicago Bears, tells it, Starks almost didn’t make it to the Packers on draft day.

As we got closer to our pick, (Bears general manager Jerry) Angelo made the decision for the Bears to draft Starks. When we drafted a player there was a protocol we followed. After the decision on who to draft was made, Cliff Stein (the Bears contract negotiator) would call the players agent and tell him we were planning on drafting his player. He would tell the agent that the wanted to get a 4-year contract with the player and wanted the contract done by a certain date. If the agent agreed then I would call the player and give him the news that the Bears were going to take him. This is exactly what happened with Starks. 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.

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. We had told a player and his agent that we were going to draft him and then backed out of the deal. To make amends, we promised the agent that if Starks was still available in the 7th round we would draft him. Green Bay, though, took him about 10 picks later and the rest is history.

Integrity and the Chicago Bears. When have those two words ever been used in the same sentence?

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