Super Bowl 2011: Will James Starks Become the Focal Point of Super Bowl Sunday?

Alec Dopp@alecdoppCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Running back James Starks #44 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after his four-yard second quarter touchdown run against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As much as you and I would love to praise both Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers for their stellar, indisputable playoff performances thus far (and rightfully so), there has been a new development in Green Bay's offensive attack that most of the country ought to pay close attention to come game day.

No, it's not the Packers consummate batch of wide receivers, nor their subjugating defense.

Heck, it isn't even their adept coaching staff or skillfully artistic defensive coordinator.

No, it's their rookie running back (I'm sure you have heard of him), James Starks.  Remember?  The man who single-handedly took over Green Bay's rushing attack by storm.

Although his 101-yard regular season total may sway his critics in the negative direction, let's remember: McCarthy's running backs struggled to yield more yards on the ground than their All-Pro quarterback.

Shocking, I know.

But that's how it has been in Green Bay this season: pass, pass and some more pass.

Now I'm sure folks across the country have yet to encompass Starks' profile.  Hailing from the University of Buffalo as the all-time leading rusher in school history, Starks has maintained a past few have yet to dream up.

In fact, as a three-year starter for Buffalo, Starks furnished with over 3,100 yards via the ground and 34 touchdowns.  Talk about remarkable, huh?

Well, it's true.

Despite the injury sidelining him for his entire senior season at the University of Buffalo, Starks was still as determined as ever to prove his worth to some lucky NFL franchise.  And that franchise was the Packers.

But enough about his story.  Let's get to the real reason why I am writing this article.

In these playoffs, Starks has generated 263 yards in a mere three games—against teams ranked in the top half of the NFL in yards allowed per game.


But the magic has only just begun for Starks and the Packers, as they close in on their first Super Bowl appearance in over a decade.

Two weeks ago, Starks registered his first career touchdown on the NFL stage against the Bears—a touchdown that had Packers fans jumping for joy all over the nation.  And despite accumulating just 74 yards against Chicago's raving defense, the Packers came out on top, while returning the favor to Lovie Smith and the Bears in the process.

However, you could argue that Starks' 74 yards were the most crucial yards of Green Bay's entire season.

As for McCarthy, here's what he had to say: "I think it is clearly evident to everybody what kind of player he can be. I think what is exciting about him is his best football is in front of him. He has all the tools, the work ethic, the intelligence, the instincts to be an every-down player, and everything is in front of him. Running the football definitely will be a factor in this game and James will be a part of that."

Well, you heard it from the man himself.

An established and potent running game complemented by Aaron Rodgers can be as lethal as anything currently known to mankind.  Just ask Matt Ryan and the Falcons.

But Starks' story has made him a fan-favorite in Green Bay, and across the country for that matter.  What's not to love about a guy battling and fighting his way back from injury to be featured in the Super Bowl?

Nothing.  That's what.

Still, the everlasting cliché that is the "underdog" running back still thrives in Green Bay's locker room.  And it looks to become as promising a future as we have ever witnessed in Titletown.

So, for now, let us sit back and behold the game that is Super Bowl XLV.

But in the back of our minds, we should not forget No. 44 lining up behind Rodgers, because chances are, he'll have more of an impact on Sunday than we previously believed.