PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Running back LeGarrette Blount #9 of the Oregon Ducks celebrates his touchdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes at the 96th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2010 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** LeGarrette Blount
When we last left former Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount, he was punching Boise State’s Byron Hout in the face and getting himself suspended for eight games of the 2009 season. Now Blount is a rookie running back for the Titans, and yesterday that ol’ punchy feeling got the best of him once more, leading him to punch one of his own teammates.
He was carrying the ball in a drill near the goal line when his helmet came off, and he kept his feet moving toward the end zone. The play ended with some pushing and shoving, then Blount threw a right into (defensive end Eric) Bakhtiari's facemask.
Now, you might think Blount’s punch would lead to a suspension or a demotion or a great gnashing of the teeth about sportsmanship in our day and age from Mike Lupica or something horrible like that. But Blount found out yesterday that the NFL is wayyyy cooler about that kind of stuff than college football people are.
"He apologized, and I said he didn't have to apologize," (Titans coach) Fisher said. "It's football. It's training camp…
"His past is his past," the coach said. "Is that the first punch you've seen in camp this year? No. I'm not disappointed whatsoever. I have great confidence in the young man that he learned from his mistake, and he's very competitive. That's why we brought him in here is to watch him run the football like that."
Poor LeGarrette. If he had simply waited until he got to the pros to throw all his haymakers, he could have been a first round pick.
Obviously, getting snippy with a teammate and coldcocking an opponent after a real game are two totally different things. If Blount punches Peyton Manning after the Titans play the Colts, he’ll be suspended for nine hundred years. But there’s something delightful about the way the Titans completely brushed it off. Blount punched a teammate? NICE! We like that kind of chippiness there, fella. Nothing has to be a big deal if you don’t make it out to be one.
Football is a game in which anger is an essential quality. Players are regularly derided by coaches for lacking a mean streak or not being nasty enough. And players like Adrian Peterson are lauded for running angry. Blount finds himself with a surplus of angry energy that serves his game well, even if he loses control at times. It’s gonna be interesting to see if he can find a way to strike the right balance during the course of his career, or if his temper will one day lead to his professional demise. All that’s certain is that the NFL will give him a whole lot of slack to find out.