Former Bears Scout: Passing on James Starks was the “most embarrassing moment” of my career

Green Bay Packers running back James Starks gains 27 yards to the Packers 32-yard line as he shakes off a tackle attempt by Philadelphia Eagles Kurt Coleman during first quarter action of the Philadelphia Eagles-Green Bay Packers NFC Wildcard playoff game in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field January 9, 2011. UPI/John Anderson

Former Bears scout Greg Gabriel wrote an interesting article for the National Football Post. He describes the scene as the Bears tried to decide between James Starks and Dan LeFevour.

As we got closer to our pick, 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.

This is something of a story now that Starks is emerging as the top tailback for the Packers. He rushed 23 times for 123 yards against the Eagles, showing very good burst and wiggle through the hole. He also showed some nice hands out of the backfield, which makes sense since he caught a total of 93 passes in 2007 and 2008 as a member of the Buffalo Bulls.

After Ryan Grant went down, the Packers decided not to add Marshawn Lynch to the mix at tailback and it appears that Starks was the main reason why.

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