LeGarrette Blount powers through troubled times

New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.

PERRY, Fla. — Gary Blount presents an imposing figure. Even at 56, the father of New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount looks like he could strap on the pads and a helmet and hold his own in the NFL.

He’s the same size as his son, around 6-1, 250 pounds — although he jokes LeGarrette is a little thicker and in better shape — and it’s clear where the genetic blueprint that helped younger Blount become an imposing runner came from.

In his day, Gary Blount was a middle linebacker who helped lead Taylor County High to a 1977 state runner-up finish. But LeGarrette Blount has surpassed his father in notoriety in this rural town that is about 50 miles southeast of Tallahassee.

“I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be better than him,” Blount said Thursday. “So I made it to this level, so I’m the best. I’m the best ballplayer in the family.”.

He is the best to come out of Perry, although the road to Super Bowl XLIX and a spot the Patriots’ record book has not always been smooth.

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From being suspended while playing at Oregon to getting cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers this season, Blount has struggled to avoid trouble. Now he finds himself not only with the chance to win an NFL title, but also in a situation that might be the best for the mercurial back.

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“I just hope he’s able to be successful the rest of his career and doesn’t have any other incidents, ’cause I know him,” said Toney Powell, a former high school teammate of Blount’s. “He’s just a play away from blowing it.”.


Blount rushed for 772 yards and seven touchdowns for the Patriots last season but left to sign as a free agent with the Steelers. It was his fourth NFL team in five years after the Tennessee Titans signed him as an undrafted rookie out of Oregon in 2010.

Trouble followed in Pittsburgh. Blount and Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell were cited for marijuana possession in August. The same month, Pittsburgh news media reported that Blount jumped into a tussle during training camp and had to be restrained by coach Mike Tomlin.

By the time the Steelers played the Titans on Nov. 17, Blount had 266 yards on 65 carries in 10 games. Bell finished the victory against Tennessee with 204 yards on 33 carries while Blount did not touch the ball. Blount left the field before the end of the game, upset about his lack of playing time, according to news media reports. The Steelers released him the next day.

“It looked bad walking off from Pittsburgh, and other folks saw that as a bad thing,” said Edward Harvey, who coached Blount in track at Taylor County and was on the football coaching staff while he was there. “But it turned out to be a good thing for him.”.

Blount went unclaimed on waivers, and New England signed him Nov. 20. It gave him another chance, and Blount is not unfamiliar with second chances. He was suspended for most of his senior season at Oregon in 2009 after he punched a Boise State player in the opener.

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While Gary Blount says he and his son haven’t discussed those incidents specifically, he agreed with a friend’s assessment that Blount wants to be tough.

“I’ve talked to him numerous times about controlling your temper and all,” Gary Blount said. “But he’s always been a tough fellow. He started playing varsity at 14 years old.”.


Powell remembers Blount would sometimes come to football practice in just a shell while the rest of the players were in full pads. Aside from being clearly the best player, Blount was a “very playful guy, like a big kid,” Powell said.

Although Taylor County was no better than .500 in any of Blount’s four seasons, he finished with more than 3,700 rushing yards and a reputation for improving as the game went on. Harvey remembers it being difficult for defenders to tackle him high, a skill he has shown throughout his NFL career.

Powell and Gary Blount describe LeGarrette Blount as someone who likes to clown around. Blount was a popular guy in high school, voted most athletic in his senior class, although he was a bit of a homebody.

“As long as he can get a computer game, he didn’t leave the house,” Blount’s father said.

Blount went to East Mississippi Community College to straighten out his academics and was the nation’s top junior college running back recruit. To Gary Blount, that’s an example of his son bouncing back from bumps in the road.

“To see him happy again makes me happy, makes us happy,” Gary Blount said. “When he does good things and contributes to a win, you can just look and see the happiness in his eyes.”.

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In New England, Blount seems to have found the right environment. He had 281 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots’ final five regular-season games. In the AFC title game Sunday vs. The Indianapolis Colts, his three touchdowns (to go with 148 yards) made him the franchise leader in postseason rushing TDs, adding to the four he scored against the Colts in last season’s playoffs.

Afterward, Blount praised the brotherhood of the team, his offensive line and how much he loves being with the organization.

Gary Blount, Powell and Harvey agreed New England is the best place for Blount. “It would be good if he finishes his career there” Gary Blount said. “The coaches work with him. I think they’re glad to have him back.”.

Thursday in Foxborough, Mass., Blount wore a blue sweatshirt that read “Blount Force Trauma.” With several dozen reporters pressed around his locker, Blount showed them brass knuckles with “LG” on them. He spoke of his roundabout path to the Super Bowl but was noncomital when asked he if wants to re-sign with the Patriots.

“I’ve had good times and bad and I’ve embraced them all,” Blount said. “So I’m enjoying every second of this. I’m in the best scenario I could possibly be in right now.”.

Contributing: Gary Mihoces in Foxborough.

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