RESERVATIONS FOR SIX: Blount deserves second shot
Oregon senior running back LaGarrette Blount hasn’t played since being suspended following an on-field altercation after the Ducks’ season-opening loss to Boise State Sept. 3.’
The incident involved Blount and Boise State’s Byron Holt, who slapped Blount on the shoulder pad and said something in his direction immediately after the Broncos knocked off the favored Ducks. The incident culminated with Blount punching a distracted Holt.
Footage of the incident and the ensuing confrontations between Blount and the fans were broadcast ad nauseum.’
The country’s reaction was resounding approval of head coach Chip Kelly’s decision to suspend Blount for the rest of the season.’
Since then, the Ducks have reeled off four consecutive wins, and the idea of reinstating Blount has surfaced.’
Kelly has indicated that he could be allowed to rejoin the team if he meets certain criteria. ‘
Putting everything in perspective, Blount’s season-long suspension was a bit much.
He has accepted full responsibility for his mistake. He even wrote a letter of apology that was printed in the Daily Emerald, the Oregon student newspaper.’
The bottom line is that Blount is a young man who made a mistake. What caused the furor and uproar is that it came after the game, as opposed to in the heat of battle.’
On Sept. 12, Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton punched Notre Dame’s Eric Olsen the latter was on his knees and was not punished until the Big Ten took action. Even then, he received a one-game ban. Clearly something is amiss.’
There’s a case to be made for everyone receiving a second chance. Guys like Michael Vick, Donte Stallworth, and Plaxico Burress are all deserving of current and future NFL reinstatements.’
Blount reacted like most ‘ordinary’ people would have in a similar situation. Imagine being ridiculed after being beat out for a job by a rival candidate.’
There’s a good chance that turning the other cheek would not be the natural reaction. Add in the inherent violence of football and the reaction becomes even more understandable.’
That said, understanding doesn’t make it right, and Blount definitely deserved a suspension, albeit a shorter one.’
Lost in all this is Hout’s culpability in the matter. He is the one who instigated the contact, and had he been a little more gracious in victory, the incident may have never happened.’
Blount’s decision was wrong, and he should have done a better job of holding back. The Ducks are back flying high without Blount, but he should have never put his team in such a vulnerable position.’
It would behoove Blount to heed the words of his advisers, Kermit Washington, Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden. Blount’s apology comes across as heartfelt and sincere.’
Coach Kelly is going to monitor Blount’s progress with a closer eye than most of the public who are calling for his head.
Blount has impressed Kelly with his schoolwork and his play on the scout team in practice. Perhaps he can meet the standards set forth by Kelly and this story can have a happy ending.’
Should he see the field again, Oregon’s football program will be criticized. Ultimately, this should be seen as a lapse in judgment rather than an indication of Blount’s character.