I still remember my first memory of LeGarrette. I was in high school. Every morning, I always had some breakfast, a cup of coffee and watched Sports Center. It was here that I saw the replay of Blount punching the Boise State player after Oregon was upset by Boise State. For an immature high school boy obsessed with football I of course freaked out and thought that was the most insane thing I had ever seen, and I would be lying if I say I didn’t think, when I was 14, that LeGarrette was cool for dropping that Boise State player. It actually sparked my interest in the Ducks, a team that I have been a fan of ever since.
Blount’s career and his legacy began, and has been defined by the negative. That punch resulted in a long term suspension. His suspension brought to the forefront a young player by the name of LaMichael James, arguably one of the best players in Oregon Duck history. When he was finally reinstated to the team James had asserted himself as a star, so much so that Blount, who the year before had rushed for over 1000 yards, averaged over 7 yards per carry, and had 17 touchdowns, did not see the field for the first two of the four remaining games. Blount ended up playing sparingly in the last two games of the year against rival Oregon State (a rivalry so hate filled it’s called the Civil War), and the Rose Bowl against Ohio State. This was supposed to be the year Blount took the “next step” when he finally became a household name and a star. But unfortunately because of his choices, he left Oregon not remembered as a star player, but a troubled player.
Because of his past, and the lack of playing time because of James, Blount went undrafted in the 2010 draft and initially bounced around teams. He was originally offered a contract by San Francisco, but was shortly wooed by the Tennessee Titans and initially made their 53 man roster to start the season but he was cut shortly after. He was then picked up by Tampa Bay and played well during his time as a Buccaneer. His career had finally looked rehabilitated from his one major mistake at Oregon, when, in 2013, he was traded to New England as a part of a draft day deal. He would end up having a strong season for the Patriots running for 772 yards and 7 touchdowns.
After the 2013 season Blount signed a two year deal to join the Pittsburg Steelers to play in the backfield with star running back Le’Veon Bell but only months after signing that deal he and Bell were caught smoking marijuana possession in a car and were arrested. Once again, bad decision making had caught up to Blount. This incident put him on thin ice at the organization. What was arguably worse was the optics of the situation at the time. Blount was a known trouble maker and already had an extensive past of poor decision making, but Bell on the other hand didn’t. It appeared like the troubled Blount was endangering the career of one of the NFL’s brightest young stars.
The situation only worsened when on November 17th 2014 Blount left a game against the Tennessee Titans early. With Blount’s relationship with the Steelers already on the rocks, Blount found himself released by the Steelers and once again, Blount’s actions found him without a team. 3 days later the Patriots resign Blount and only 3 more days later Blount had a 78 yard and 2 touchdown game for Bill Belichick’s team. Blount has been on the Patriots ever since. This year has been the best of his NFL career thus far. He is destroying defenses left and right, both with Tom Brady and without him, Blount has proven to be a solid offensive weapon for the Patriots and has asserted himself as one of the best running backs in the league.
Here we are today, a man mired in trouble and his own poor choices, has been given a “second chance.” In fact a plethora of “second chances” have been given to him, more than most get. Blount is currently the 5th highest scoring running back in the league as he churns out big performance after big performance. His narrative won’t change. No one will forget his incident at Oregon and his antics at Pittsburg. But this year is a pleasant change from the trouble. For years he had a trend of making bad choices, he has replaced that with a trend for having big games. As an Oregon Duck fan, and admittedly a fan of LeGarrette Blount, I hope this is a trend he doesn’t break.