MINNEAPOLIS – It would be impossible to find a player in Minneapolis this week who’s traveled a bumpier path to Super Bowl LII than Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount, a two-time Super Bowl winner and former Patriot.
Lightly recruited out of high school, Blount played two years of junior college football before earning a chance to play at Oregon.
At Oregon he clashed with coach Mike Bellotti and was suspended for the first quarter of a game against Cal, and then suspended indefinitely at the end of the season for “failure to fulfill team obligations.”
Chip Kelly arrived in March 2009 and reinstated Blount, and he appeared to be poised for a promising senior campaign.
In the opener against Boise St., Blount was held to minus 5 yards on eight carries, and in response to a taunt from a Boise St. defender in the post game handshakes, Blount sucker-punched him and hit one of his own teammates attempting to restrain him. Then confronted by fans on his way to the locker room, Blount had to be restrained by his own coaches.
Kelly suspended him for the next seven games.
In 2010, he signed with the Titans as an undrafted rookie free agent, but was cut coming out of camp and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In 13 games, Blount became just the second undrafted rookie free agent in NFL history (Dominic Rhodes with the Colts in 2001) to rush for at least 1,000 yards.
He was traded to the Patriots prior to the 2013 NFL Draft and rushed for 772 yards, one less than Stevan Ridley’s team-leading 773.
Still, the Pats allowed Blount to leave via free agency prior to the start of the 2014 season.
He signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers in March, earned a one-game suspension in Pittsburgh for a traffic stop involving marijuana with Le’Veon Bell, was released after Week 11 for leaving the field early in a game he wasn't playing in and then claimed on waivers by the Pats.
Over the last five games, Blount rushed for 281 yards and three scores and helped lead the Patriots to their Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seahawks.
After a solid 2015 season that ended with Blount on I.R. following Week 15, he led the Patriots in rushing in 2016 with 1,161 yards and a whopping 18 TDs, and yet they still allowed him to get away to the Eagles this season in free agency.
Unbowed, Blount lead the Eagles in rushing with 766 yards and here he is in his third Super Bowl in four seasons.
Wow, let’s all take a breath.
Now imagine my surprise when Blount offered this response the other day to a question about his relationship with Tom Brady and his former Patriot mates.
“Yes, you know I talk with Tom (Brady) pretty often and you know me and him have a bond. Just like me and Dion (Lewis) and James (White) and Brandon (Bolden) and (Rob Gronkowski), and you know (Dont'a) Hightower and so forth.
“You know I’ve got a lot of bonds on that team that I’ll continue to have for the rest of my life outside of football and Tom was one of them.
“He’s a great friend, he’s a great person, obviously you guys know all this stuff so you can’t say enough about how good of a person he is. You know he’s one of my closest friends on the team and I love him.”
In fact if you ask Brady, Bill Belichick, Kelly, Mike Tomlin or pretty much anyone who’s crossed Blount’s path, they all say the same thing. He’s a great kid who’s intensity and competitiveness haunt him at times.
He is a cousin of Hall of Famer Mel Blount and comes from a tight-knit family.
Blount kidded about his parents' experience with him the last few years saying, “They’ve just been enjoying the ride, they’ve been asking me questions that obviously I can’t answer like ‘How come when you go from one team to another, you know your team still goes to the Super Bowl and such and such,’ and I’m just like we’ve just got a good team and I’ve been blessed enough to pick the right team I guess.”
Or have the right teams picked him? It’s really hard to tell.