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Starks authoring an award-worthy comeback


It is never too early to start talking about awards, especially since speculation for them starts before a single game is even played.
Aaron Rodgers has a hammerlock on the MVP award. Cam Newton is the front runner for Rookie of the Year, though Andy Dalton and DeMarco Murray may be among those closing the gap.
And here is one that I will throw out there: Max Starks for Comeback Player of the Year.
It is hard to imagine Starks not at least being in the discussion for that award at this point of the season.
Consider that he missed the final 11 games of 2010, including the postseason, with a neck injury. Consider that he watched the Steelers’ first game of this season at a sports bar in Arizona — a bloated contract and questions about weight having conspired against Starks in late July when the Steelers released him.
But it turns out the Steelers needed Starks as much as he needed them.
And after they threw the mammoth offensive tackle a lifeline in early October, he went from street free agent to starter in less than a week.
The Steelers are 5-1 since Starks reclaimed his old job at left tackle, and the eighth-year veteran has been a leader and a stabilizing force along the offensive line.
Ben Roethlisberger’s comfort with Starks protecting his blind side is obvious with the quarterback’s high level of play over the last six weeks. And Starks has been better than the Steelers could have expected when they signed him to a one-year contract.
He held Steelers-tormentor Terrell Suggs without a sack two weeks ago. He played a solid game in Cincinnati even though Roethlisberger got sacked five times.
One of those, by my count, was a result of Roethlisberger holding onto the ball too long. And the Bengals gave the Steelers trouble when they attacked the interior of the offensive line, not when they rushed Roethlisberger from the edge.
Starks’ teammates voted him the Steelers’ winner of the Ed Block Courage Award last month. The award honors a player that has shown courage in dealing with or overcoming adversity.
If Starks continues to play well, his perseverance could and maybe should earn him national recognition.
And his take on what has transpired over the last six weeks?
“I’m back home,” Starks said after the Steelers’ 24-17 win over the Bengals. “It’s just a blessing, God’s will overrides anyone else’s. All you can do is just follow a path, one step at a time and He leads you in the right direction and so I’m just blessed.”
So are the Steelers.

— Scott Brown



  1. Doug Halfen says:

    Yes, we’re all blessed by Max’s return. Cutting him, injury or no, was a grade-D bonehead move. I remember wanting to shout, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” when he had to leave the Cincy game. (But I didn’t, because he seemed to be okay. ;^) Now, if we could just clone him, and put his duplicates on the RIGHT side of the line, then we’d be in business!!!

  2. Datruth4life says:

    Here’s hoping the Steelers resign. With he, Colon, Pouncey and M. Gilbert, they are closer to being a good offensive line than at anytime in the past 5 years.

  3. Bob Loblaw says:

    The Steelers don’t cut Starks he might still be sitting on the bench overweight. Gilbert hasn’t been bad on the right side considering he’s a rookie.

  4. Dennis Moore says:

    Max has helped settle this offensive line down.without him they were a mess.when he was cut before the season i thought that was a huge least they figured that out be for it was to late.i just hope now they sign him to a new long term contract since he has shown how important he is to the o-line.

  5. EF says:

    Releasing Starks was above and beyond stupid, thank the Lord he was still available !! Colon is the lineman that must go, he is not a starting caliber tackle in the NFL, he might be an average guard a best. If the Steelers need to free up some money lets hope it’s Colon and not Max next time.

  6. Steve says:

    Yes – Based on reports of how out of shape he was, I think cutting him had to happen. Seems to have been a wake up call and he is making amends for it now. With him, Pouncey and the solid play so far of Gilbert, maybe the o-line is finally developing into a better unit. Still can be better based on the five sacks allowed Sunday even if ben contributes to that by holding the ball.

  7. Scott P says:

    The on again, off again career of Max Starks is something I have difficulty understanding. He goes from starting in a Super bowl victory, to the bench. Then from the bench to franchise player then back to the bench. He then goes from starting in another Superbowl, back to the bench. Then from I.R. to the waiver wire, then back to “Comeback Player Of the Year” candidate. Simply incredible.

  8. Jack says:

    I hope he plays out his career here and continues to live in the area ofter his playing days. He seems like a nice person, involved in the community, bright and well spoken. Candidate for a job with a microphone I’d bet.

  9. Dick says:

    It is no coincidence that Steeler offensive line play has improved since Max came back. If his QB trusts him to protect his blind side, that says it all. We need Max. He wants to be a Steeler and, I for one, am glad he is back. Hang in there, Max, and keep up the good work at left tackle.

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