In 1969 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published 'On Death and Dying', her book described five discrete stages, by which people allegedly deal with grief and tragedy. The five steps do not have to come in order, nor are all they all experienced by all people. Kübler-Ross stated a person will always experience at least two.
The Stages defined in 'Death and Dying' are:
Stage 1, Denial: There is no more denying it, though Monday night I was deeply involved in this stage. When post on bleacher report first surfaced I tried, in vain, to debunk their speculative post.
Well of course if his undisclosed injury requires surgery he may miss the season. Hell if the Easter bunny kicks me in my shins tomorrow I may miss work. Then again If I am not kicked by the Easter Bunny I wont miss work, or I might just be 15 minutes late if I stub my toe on the Easter Bunny's egg cart. -- Bull Run
There were signs pointing at a more serious injury than first indicated in the Buffalo News, but no one who was bleeding Blue and White wanted to believe it. Denial came to a crushing defeat the next morning when multiple outlets including the Buffalo News, ESPN, and UB themselves came out with the announcement that James Starks Injury would end his 2009 season before it even began.
Stage 2, Anger: Anger can be one of the most productive of all emotions, so long as its aimed correctly its usually a positive force in our lives.
Often when we become invested in a team we first see how their struggles and successes effect us, any long time RedSox fan can tell how it hurt to watch Bill Buckner punt a world series game but not many of them say they felt for Bill Buckner. I was impressed by the reactions on UBFan.com which universally focused on James Starks the Man, not James Starks the Half Back.
Starks is a class act, a local kid who helped put UB on the map. UB fans are owed nothing by him but we owe him immensely and it seems fans did not lose sight of that. Joe Jenkins at UBfan put up a great blog on the subject if you can find the time pop over and read the whole thing, it is really a must read.
Stage 3, Bargaining: I hit this early last Tuesday when I started pouring through NCAA rules about getting a medical hardship waiver. I had seen several places that Starks wont qualify and there had been no indication he was going to even try but when one is in the throws of bargaining its all about them. Turns out the chances of someone in Starks position, used the red shirt freshman year and played three healthy seasons, is unlikely to get a waiver.
For his part James Starks has shown incredible maturity trough these events, I don't think too many young men facing the potential setback that he is facing could carry on with half as much dignity.
"The team has also been here. Just the feeling that I let them down made the decision a little harder for me. I had a lot of information and a lot of help to make my decision. I prayed to the great Lord up above and I asked a lot of people around and the best decision for me and the team was to have the surgery." -- James Starks to ESPN
Stage 4, Depression: With healthy order of priorities this is of the stages that we collectively skip, because when the day is done football is just a game. James Starks didn't die, he is, and will remain, a part of the team, and part of the UB community.
Whether that calling is going to be the NFL draft after rehab, coaching, or any number of countless possibilities this road bump will not derail him from the life he believes the Lord is calling him to lead.
Stage 5, Acceptance: For James Starks this is just an obstacle to overcome, he is not going anywhere and his leadership, while not on the field, will be critical for UB this season:
"We're going to get along and still do fine," Starks said. "Our goal is still the same. I'm still going to lead them the best way I could verbally. I'll be at practice and talking to the guys. If they need something from me I'm still going to be there."
James is still going to graduate in December, he will be done with rehabilitation in time for the NFL-Combine, and according to many while his stock may fall a bit he will probably be drafted.
"It's not good for the kid and it's too bad for the team and the program, but it's not the end of the world and he'll be able to get some things done." -- Tom Modrak, the Bills' vice president of college scouting
For UB fans the season will go on, and we have two very talented and proven backs in the persons of Mario Henry, and Brandon Thermilus. While there will be slight adjustments on the field any opponent who thinks UB will not have a running game come kickoff is going to be in for a big surprise.