Patriots' Blount says he did not orchestrate getting cut by Steelers
January 27, 2015 3:52 PM
Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel greets former teammate LeGarrette Blount, now a running back for the New England Patriots, at Super Bowl media day on Jan. 27, 2015, in Phoenix.
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PHOENIX — LeGarrette Blount could not reach his seat at the Super Bowl media event before he was confronted by two former Steelers teammates.
Unlike his rough and sudden exit from the Steelers in November, Blount, now with the New England Patriots, was greeted by warm handshakes and hugs from Brett Keisel and Ike Taylor.
“Ike and Brett were two of the guys who were pretty close to me,” Blount said afterward. “I like those guys a lot. I keep in contact with them. I like those guys a lot. That goes to say that some of the things that were said about me after I left that team wasn’t true.”
He then asked if Le’Veon Bell were in the building. “That’s my guy,” he said.
Blount, criticized by some teammates in November and called a “cancer” by one, declined to answer why he left the Steelers or why he signed with them in the first place. He also would not say if the Steelers had promised him a different or bigger role when he signed as an unrestricted free agent last year after spending 2013 with the Patriots.
Most of those questions were answered with a smile and a laugh but no words.
“You know things didn’t work out as planned,” was his most extensive explanation. “So we decided to part ways. I ended up here and now I’m about to play in the Super Bowl.”
The Patriots signed him two days after he was cut by the Steelers Nov. 18 for leaving the field before their game was finished against Tennessee the night before. He had no carries in a game in which Bell ran 33 times for 204 yards in a 27-24 victory.
Blount did answer with a soft “No” and a shake of his head when asked if he orchestrated his exit from the Steelers. He would not answer whether he knew the Patriots might have wanted him back before he left the Steelers.
“It’s an honor to be back here, you know,” Blount said. “I enjoyed my time here when I was here last year, and it’s an honor to be back, just the fact that they care enough about me to bring me back here.”
He said he had nothing to prove after the Steelers cut him. He cleared waivers before signing with the Patriots.
“They gave me a chance to come out here and show that I can do what I’ve been doing in this league for a couple of years,” Blount said. “I can run the football. I was excited to become another asset to the team, another part of the team, another weapon they have. I was excited they gave me another chance to come back and be a part of what’s going on today.”
Blount carried 30 times for 148 yards and three touchdowns in New England’s 45-7 AFC championship win against the Indianapolis Colts.
“Just the fact that they trusted me enough to carry the ball that many times and put the game in my hands, it means a lot,” Blount said. “I’m excited to be a part of something special and be a part of the reason why we’re here.”
Blount became unhappy with the Steelers as they reduced his role and gave Bell most of the work at halfback. He had two 10-carry games but had only five carries in their loss against the New York Jets and none at all in their next game against the Titans.
He walked off the sideline and into the locker room before that game ended and told someone in the Steelers locker room, “I quit.” He then went onto the team bus, although he was talked into returning to the locker room briefly by some teammates.
He did not receive the kind of warm greetings that day by many of his teammates that he got Tuesday from Keisel and Taylor.
One veteran told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the game in Tennessee that some leaders wanted him off the team even before he walked out because he was having a bad influence on Bell, whose practice habits even seemed to dip at the time.
“We’re fine,” center Maurkice Pouncey said two days after the Steelers cut Blount. “We have our starting running back. It’s probably a good thing that it happened. At the end of the day, if it was a cancer, he ended up leaving on his own. That’s a blessing for us. At the end of the day, we’re good. We don’t need him.”
Blount, though, is having the last laugh.
“Don’t ever give up,” he said the 2014 season taught him. “Be persistent and continue to push forward for your dreams. Obviously, I’m going to be living one of my dreams in a few days.”
But if he cleared his name by helping New England, the NFL still does not know how to spell it. On the official player pass around his neck, his name reads “Lagarrette Blount.”
He also was permitted to clear his record of the marijuana arrest after he and Bell were pulled over Aug. 20 while using the drug in a car. A judge ordered him to complete 50 hours of community service at a “charitable youth organization, preferably inner-city.” The work is supposed to be done by Feb 4, three days after the Super Bowl.
Asked about it, Blount smiled, laughed and said nothing.
Ed Bouchette: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @EdBouchette.
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