The Patriots are in the Super Bowl thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, of course, but they also might not be there without LaGarrette Blount.
After bouncing around the NFL a bit in his seven pro seasons and winding up on the waiver wire several times, Blount has found his niche with the Patriots. Blount rushed for 1,161 yards this season and led the NFL with 18 touchdowns, thriving as the burly power option in New England’s platoon backfield.
There was a time when Blount appeared unlikely to have any NFL career at all. After the opening game of his senior season at Oregon, Blount punched a Boise State player in the face, earning a season-long suspension from coach Chip Kelly. At that point, this was the prevailing opinion:
LeGarrette Blount's career is done, not only as an Oregon Duck, but as a potential NFL player. Too bad. http://ow.ly/o8CL
— Kent Lewis (@kentjlewis) September 4, 2009
Much of the Blount-is-done sentiment seems to have come in response to a Todd McShay article that has mysteriously disappeared from the internet. We’ve found several message board posts and a Huffington Post article written by Dave Zirin that reference the article, in which an anonymous NFL scouting director said this: “In the matter of five minutes, Blount just went from second- or third-rounder to completely undraftable.”
As it turned out, Blount did indeed go undrafted, but he was signed by the Titans then the Bucs, and he rushed for 1,007 yards as a rookie in Tampa. His NFL career since then has not always been smooth—he’s been waived several times and was once suspended for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy—but he’s become a productive running back and a valued member of a Super Bowl team.
Blount’s success over the past seven seasons make these post-punch takes look a wee bit reactionary:
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) September 4, 2009
Oregon's LeGarrette Blount throws away his future pro career. What NFL team wants a guy that almost goes Ron Artest? http://bit.ly/wJJzb
— Bill Voth (@billvoth) September 4, 2009
— Daily Tailgate (@DailyTailgate) September 5, 2009
I saw the LeGarrette Blount punch last night, suspsended for season. What a stupid mistake to ruin a shot in the NFL for millions.
— Chris Byrd (@HeyChrisByrd) September 4, 2009
Bye, bye, NFL career. Oregon suspended star running back LeGarrette Blount for punch http://bit.ly/1orKIk
— Jonathon Scott (@jonscottdallas) September 5, 2009
Oregon Duck RB LeGarrette Blount suspended for season. One punch OUT Since he's a senior his college career is over, and chances at NFL too.
— Trevor Sheridan (@mactds) September 4, 2009
LeGarrette Blount goes undrafted. GOOD. Maybe if he didn't punch that guy, an NFL team would have given him a chance. #nfldraft
— Joe Nice (@joenicedj) April 24, 2010
More than 5,000 NFL rushing yards after the punch, Blount is still running. We’re glad he got a second chance.