Allow Me To Be Blount10.02.09
It only took one punch.
One punch and LaGarrette Blount may never play football ever again.
The 22-year-old University of Oregon senior didn’t punch his girlfriend. He didn’t get into a bar brawl. He didn’t carry a concealed weapon into a club. After a disheartening loss to Boise State, Bronco defensive end Byron Hout made sure to give Blount an earful of unnecessary snark and taunt. Blount responded with a fist square to the jaw, dropping Hout to the ground. It wasn’t unprovoked. And, to be honest, it wasn’t completely out of line.
I don’t mean to give Blount a free pass. Clearly the wrong thing to do in that situation was punching Hout in the face while he wasn’t looking. But, just how wrong was it? It’s no secret that Hout was provoking the hell out of Blount. Who knows exactly what was said but no one could call it sportsmanlike, that’s for sure. There are sore losers and there are also poor winners. Hout was most definitely a poor winner and totally out of line. Did he deserve getting socked in the mouth? Blount sure thought so.
It seems rather hypocritical to suspend Blount for the rest of the season, effectively ending his collegiate career and any real shot at going pro, for something arguably less violent than many legal hits out there on the gridiron. Knees are shredded, ankles snapped, heads cracked, tendons sprained, fingers jammed, noses bloodied, winds knocked out, bells rung, teeth rattled and sorts of other physical destruction during the brutal exercise of football. And all within the rules of the game. That fierce competition breeds this kind of intensity and physicality and raw emotion that Blount exerted after the final seconds ticked off the clock. To condemn him and rob him of a potential future because he couldn’t turn that passion off moments after a frustrating loss is just wrong.
Not to say his actions were in the right. But they were in the realm of understanding. Hout reminds me of those bullies in school who would just taunt and tease the less-cool kids until they snapped and reacted with violence, usually a feeble attempt, but violent nonetheless. And then it’d be the kid who acted out who ended up suspended or handed detention and made the example of. From that, we’d all learn the lesson: just walk away.
Easier said than done.
And Blount isn’t a kid. He’s nearly 23-years-old. He should know better. Then again, so should Hout. His immature and infuriating taunting was completely unnecessary and totally unsportsmanlike. And Hout wasn’t even punished. He wasn’t suspended for even a single game.
So, I ask, what kind of message does this send? It’s okay to talk all kinds of shit after a big victory? Verbal abuse is allowed? Sportsmanship only relates to physical actions now?
There’s a reason why there’s a phrase, “Those are fighting words.” What you say can have a profound effect on someone’s actions, as evidenced by this entire incident. I think Blount and Hout should have both received suspensions for their involvement because without Hout doing what he did, Blount wouldn’t have done what he did. Hout didn’t deserve to get punched, but he sure was asking for it. And for the football community to truly want to do something to cut down on these types of incidents happening again in the future, Hout must be held culpable for his involvement in escalating things to the point where Blount lost control and swung a fist. I think it was irresponsible on the part of Boise State to not reprimand Hout in the least. To condone his actions is to only perpetuate this type of disrespectful lack of sportsmanship that will only lead to more violent confrontations in the future.
As for Blount, apparently Oregon has laid down a list of requirements that Blount must achieve in order to have a chance at reinstatement on the football team. I hope that the school is serious and that Blount follows through. Blount deserves another chance.