LeGarrette Blount was a bad seed coming out of college. He missed the majority of his final season due to suspension after sucker punching an opposing player on the field following a loss. His draft stock took a sharp nosedive and he went undrafted, despite significant potential, as shown by his 1000-yard season as a rookie in 2010.
The issues didn’t stop there for Blount, however. He was signed as an undrafted free agent that spring by the Tennessee Titans. While there, he punched a helmeted Eric Bakhtiari after a particularly lively skirmish when the latter interfered with his path following the play.
Such an event is actually a fairly common occurrence during training camp. Cameron Heyward had a reputation of being overly aggressive in practice and got into multiple skirmishes with a variety of teammates on the field as a result.
Still, it was a high-profile event for Blount due to his history, and his inability to restrain his fist in this situation, knowing the scrutiny that he would be receiving, was certainly questionable. While he escaped any type of punishment for the incident—which is far from surprising—he did not survive the final roster cuts.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended up acquiring him, and he went on to have a very prominent role as a rookie in their offense. He averaged five yards on 201 carries, scoring six touchdowns in seven starts and 13 games played.
But all was not well in Tampa.
According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Blount’s “lack of commitment was startling to coaches from the day he was claimed off waivers from the Titans as an undrafted rookie in 2010”. He reportedly racked up over $15,000 in fines in his first two weeks with the team due to tardiness.
The problem became so significant that the team resorted to forcing him to hire a car service to not only transport him to work in the morning, but to wake him up. Stroud writes that they canceled the car service after a few weeks for a day—and only a day—because he was late once again. The car service remained in place through 2011.
He fell asleep in meetings. He was ill-prepared for games, which helped contribute to his lack of playing time during passing situations. But those things didn’t seem to be an issue in 2012, the first season with Greg Schiano as head coach.
Still, the Buccaneers were reluctant to even retain him after drafting Doug Martin in 2012, and they ended up trading him in 2013 for a seventh-round draft pick and a slight runner whose ambitions lay on the track in Jeff Demps.
Yet there’s been nary a word about Blount coming out of the New England Patriots camp and their local media, unless I’ve simply missed it. How much has he matured, and how much might that be attributable to the Patriots’ usual vow of silence?
According to Andrew Martin, who suggested that the trade could have been a wake-up call, Blount “has been a model citizen and outspoken in expressing his desire to work and be a team player” since arriving in New England.
Perhaps Tampa Bay was a corrosive environment. It certainly seemed that way last season. Perhaps he needed the structure of a stable franchise that has the prospects to win in order to motivate himself to put all the work in.
Whatever they need me to do, I’m going to do it. No matter if it’s in the third quarter or the fourth quarter, if they need me to close the game, I’m going to do that, and if they need me to start the game, I’m going to do that.
If that is the attitude that he’s taking with him to Pittsburgh—if he’s truly left his past behind him in Tampa Bay—then the Steelers made a wise decision to bring him on board.