February 5, 2011[size=18]Starks is Super
NIAGARA FALLS It doesnt seem that long ago we were cheering on Niagara Falls High School football star James Starks as he piled up yardage in our very own backyard Sal Maglie Stadium.
A few years later, the backyard moved a bit, but Starks crowned his college years by setting a University at Buffalo career rushing record with 3,140 yards.
The community winced when Starks then projected to be a possible second- or third-round pick in the NFL Draft went down with a shoulder tear and missed his entire senior year at UB.
Suddenly, his future in football seemed in jeopardy.
But the man affectionately known in his hometown as Buck persevered and refused to give up on his dream.
The end result is something Hollywood couldnt have scripted any better.
The Green Bay Packers took a chance on Starks in the sixth round and, after the 24-year-old spent most of his rookie season out with a torn hamstring, he scored a breakout performance in a Dec. 5 game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Then came the playoffs and Starks really started to shine.
Today, the kid from Niagara Falls will have finished his transition from our backyard to the greatest national stage as the starting running back in Super Bowl XLV when his Packers battle the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Win or lose, Starks is a champion in our view. Hes given this city something it sorely needed a gridiron hero and something positive to cheer for again.
Whether youre a football fan or not, you cant help but smile thinking about Starks story. Not only has Young Buck overcome every obstacle thrown his way, but hes done so with a poise and maturity thats beyond his years.
In an interview with the Niagara Gazette before the NFC Championship game, Starks sheepishly admitted hes become a source of pride here in his hometown.
It shows youre doing something more than playing football, he said. Youre touching peoples lives, giving people hope.
People that dont believe you can go to the NFL, I came from the same place you are, and Im living my dream. As long as you put your mind to it, you can do anything.
Were all wishing Buck the best of luck.