Sunday, September 6, 2009

Blount Paid Too Severe of a Price for Punch

LeGarrette Blount should have been suspended for his slug of Boise State defensive lineman Byron Hout on Thursday night following the University of Oregon's 19-8 football loss to the Broncos. Blount had been quoted as saying Oregon would get revenge for its shocking home loss to Boise State last year and obviously he didn't back up those statements.

The Oregon offense was terrible and Blount rushed for minus 5 yards on eight carries. It was a bad night, a disappointing effort and the last thing Blount needed was Hout walking up to him after the game at midfield, tapping him on the shoulder pad and mouthing trash talk. (See video in next post)

Blount reacted by slugging Hout in the jaw, a punch that so clearly connected, saliva could be seen exiting Hout's mouth. It was an ugly scene, filled with bitter emotions, frustration and immaturity. The University of Oregon suspended Blount, who spoke with the media after the game and apologize not only for his punch but charging some Boise State fans who were pelting him with insults while walking off the field, for the rest of the season, thus ending his college career.

Blount is an angry young man who needs help, but robbing him of 11 football games because he snapped isn't the answer. Of course, he deserves a suspension, a hefty one, but it was apparent he was provoked. In sports, you generally never touch an opposing player following a game unless it's to congratulate him for a good effort. Hout slapped Blount on the shoulder pad, which to many who grew up in urban communities, is an action asking to for retaliation.

There was no way Blount should have punched Hout, but let's say Hout keeps walking and never utters a word, does Blount snap? Probably not. He was level headed enough to apologize for his actions just minutes after the incident. The University of Oregon should have taken the weekend to decide Blount's fate, should have approached the kid and gotten his side and then made the call. But what the university did is react to the perception that some angry brotha socked an innocent opponent following a loss, a sore loser who couldn't contain his emotion.

But there is so much more to the story. It's the story of a winning player who sought out Blount to rub his nose in his failures. You are asking a 22-year-old young man to contain his emotions enough when he is jabbed by someone he hardly knows. Without a doubt, Blount should have walked on, swallowed his pride and not defended himself or escalated the incident, but to end his college career when there are college athletes who have DUIs on their record, have been arrested for stealing, assaulting students at campus parties and even assaults against women, but yet are still allowed to play, is a woeful reaction.

Blount's action was of immaturity and emotion, and perhaps an anger management course during a five-game suspension would have been more appropriate, but to take his career away, and then hinder his chances for a professional career because the lone image scouts and general managers will see is the slugging of Hout is unfair. This is needs attention, professional help and in a sense, some encouragement. These are still kids. Even though Blount is a hulking 6-feet-2, 240 pounds with a good right hook, he is still a kid, filled with insecurities, simmering emotions and lacking those social skills for success.

"LeGarrette's hurt," Coach Chip Kelly told the Oregonian. "I think he understands that he made a mistake. I'm sure it's a very difficult situation for him to go through. He cried, I cried. I told him he needs to stay with this football program, and we'll do everything to support him."

Taking his career away isn't the answer. Penalizing him for his actions but teaching and reaching the kid is the answer. The University of Oregon blew this one and let's hope Blount experiences personal growth and success and is able to create new and more positive images. He deserves a second chance.