When running back LeGarrette Blount walked out of the locker room on his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates, then returned only when assistant defensive coach Joey Porter asked him to rejoin team only to watch him walk away again, he may have done it intentionally. During Media Day leading up to Super Bowl XLIX on Tuesday, Blount was questioned about the incident and whether he intentionally created a situation that would remove him from the Steelers roster. He simply smiled.
When asked by the media whether he knew that he would reunite with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick before being dismissed from the Steelers for what the team felt was a serious protocol breach and disregard for team policies. Blount’s response was a simple smile once again. Further, when he was questioned if he may have had the idea the Patriots may have been interested in having him return to their team, again Blount smiled widely and laughed. “I didn’t know nothin’,” was the only words he gave in response to the thread of questions.
NFL.com released an article on Monday detailing a Blount vs Marshawn Lynch running back debate. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook lit up with a wide range opinions, including one by this author, that Blount’s “history” in the league and his early infraction of the NFL substance abuse policy appeared to illustrate a general dismissal of sportsmanship and offered a revealing look at his personality. Attacks were leveled against those who agreed, with comments ranging from cries of ‘racism’, a lack of knowledge of him as a player or a man to threats so filled with vitriol that Twitter began looking into comments that are against their user policies. Others simply stated they felt Lynch was a better running back, still drawing abusive responses.
Many NFL insiders and members of the media have maintained that Blount’s actions while with the Steelers were intentional and pre-meditated. Blount was released by the Patriots as a free agent and then signed by Pittsburgh where he was given the opportunity to be the one-two punch in their rushing game. Blount’s run in with law enforcement after being in a vehicle driven by Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell after a traffic stop in which a police officer smelled the odor of marijuana, an illegal substance and banned from usage by NFL players league-wide, caused friction within the Steelers locker room.
Blount had seven carries in his first two games after the incident and was limited by the Carolina Panthers to 10 carries for 118 yards followed up by four carries in a three-point loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bell was listed on the depth chart as the number one running back and Blount expressed frustration over not having a bigger role. Now it appears his rumblings may have been an elaborate plan to return to New England.
According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, Blount was keeping in contact with his former Patriots teammates, including New England’s leading running back Stevan Ridley. On Tuesday, Blount referred to Ridley as being “like a little brother.”
“I stayed close with a lot of guys,” admitted Blount. “I stayed close with Ridley…Shane Vereen. I stayed close with all of my running backs…with Devin McCourty.” Blount added that it was his “brotherhood” with Patriots players that supported him “through everything” that he was going through. Following an injury to Ridley, Blount rushed for no gain against the Tennessee Titans.
Blount was called out for committing what many in league circles, including coaches and players, feel is an unforgivable sin – abandonment of his brothers due to selfishness. With the revelation that Blount considered the Patriots to be his brothers instead, it becomes even more glaring that negative reactions may have been what he wanted all along. In fact, Blount said, “I wasn’t worried at all,” when asked if he was concerned about not landing with another team. Just one day following his release, the New England Patriots called him and 48 hours later he was back with Belichick. Blount’s response to a question about the call from Belichick was, “He just said, ‘Be ready to go’.”
This will be Blount’s first Super Bowl appearance and while laughing and grinning through his media day appearance, he exhibited what many consider to be his true intentions all along. Blount reportedly spoke to Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor and defensive end Brett Keisel on Tuesday, but insists he was innocent of any intentional misconduct in order to get back on the Patriots’ roster. Then, out came the smile and laughs once again.
As Steelers Gab lead writer Matt Leode stated on January 19,
Blount is clearly a selfish person, let’s not forget the incident that started his rep as a player that most teams would rather not have to deal with…Yes, that was the start, but giving the devil his due, Blount took the opportunity to run to the Pats after his release from the Steelers, and has made the most of it.
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