End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: LeGarrette Blount
Position: Running Back
Experience: 5 Years
I’m never going to be the guy who pretends that I didn’t say something that I obviously did in the past. I was with pretty much everybody else in heralding the signing of running back LeGarrette Blount as, finally, a true complementary running back to Le’Veon Bell, a real one-two punch in the backfield that could be among the best in the league.
After watching the Steelers rely so heavily on their rookie back in 2013, it was obvious that Pittsburgh needed to find somebody else who can eat up quality snaps in the future. Blount was that guy, or so I thought. And perhaps in the early portions of the season, he was.
Of course, there was that nasty little arrest incident that is likely to land his buddy, Bell, a two-game suspension to begin the 2015 season, but Blount scored two touchdowns and had a 100-yard game on his resume by the end of week three, and the Steelers really couldn’t have asked more of him by that point.
His on-field production, however, quickly began to trail off, getting stuffed for a loss inside the red zone. It all came to a head in Tennessee when the Steelers continually fed Bell the ball en route to his first career 200 rushing yard game. Blount didn’t see a single carry in that game and walked off the field early.
He vacated the locker room early, as well, and had to be coaxed by teammates and coaches to return to hear his coach speak after an important victory. It wasn’t long after that that the Steelers announced his release in a move that most agreed had become necessary.
By the reports that surfaced after the fact, as well as comments from his former teammates—in which the term ‘cancer’ was brought up—it was certainly clear that the issues ran deeper than just a pair of incidents.
Blount is obviously a talented back. He went on to do quite well in his second stint with the New England Patriots en route to a Super Bowl championship. But nothing that came after the fact alters the logic of the move the Steelers made to release him. He proved to be a bad influence on Bell, which is something they couldn’t afford. But now they’re back to square one when it comes to looking for his backup.