Blount has paid the price for punch

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By Tom Ward KVAL Sports

News of LeGarrette Blount's reinstatement has added another wave of controversy. But now, with his reinstatement for the final three games of the season, hopefully Blount and the Ducks - and the rest of us - can move on, writes KVAL Sports director Tom Ward.

EUGENE, Ore. -- News of LeGarrette Blount's reinstatement has added another wave of controversy to an incident that has caught the attention of even those who don't follow college football. But now, with his reinstatement for the final three games of the season, hopefully Blount and the Ducks - and the rest of us - can move on.

I don't know LeGarrette Blount on a personal level, but I've seen enough of him to get a feel for his basic personality. When Blount first came to Oregon, it was clear he had been raised with some sort of understanding of respect and manners.

"Yes, sir," he would say when asked a question.

"Nice to meet you," I said, when the interview was over.

"Nice to meet you, too," he replied.

This was typical of every interview I've conducted with the soft-spoken hulk of a young man.

When it comes to opinions on the story, I've heard everything. "That thug should never play again," some say. "Hout (the guy who was the recipient of the right jab in Boise) had it coming," others protest.

But the bottom line here is: Did the punishment fit the crime? The answer is obviously yes.

In October 2006, the University of Miami and Florida International had a total of 31 players suspended for an ugly, sideline-clearing brawl that featured Anthony Reddick of Miami using his helmet like a sledgehammer on an FIU player. For his actions, Reddick originally got a one game suspension. That was extended to four games after the school consulted further with the Atlantic Coast Conference. FIU dismissed Chris Smith and Marshall McDuffie, Jr. for the season for their roles in the brawl.

There's also the Brandon Spikes 'eye-gouging' incident from the Oct. 31, 2009, between Florida and Georgia. For that, Spikes got half a game from Florida head coach Urban Myer, which Spikes himself later extended to a full game.

Blount's punch falls somewhere in between these two incidents, but the punishment wound up being nowhere near what either of these players received. If and when LeGarrette Blount returns to the playing field, he will have missed no less than eight games of his senior season at Oregon. For a player who has dreams of the NFL, missing three-fourths of his senior season has ramifications that cannot be measured. Fewer appearances leads to fewer opportunities to impress NFL scouts, which leads to lower draft stock, which in turn leads to lower draft position, and ultimately, much less money.

I'm not saying Blount's NFL aspirations should afford him special treatment. And certainly, he hasn't gotten that when you compare it to the aforementioned suspensions.

The en vogue saying these days is, "America is the land of second chances." While I do believe that to be true to a point, it shouldn't be absolute. Do I think what LeGarrette Blount did was wrong? Yes. Do I believe Byron Hout was wrong to taunt Blount after a miserable performance in Boise? Absolutely. Now, two months later, has Blount paid an appropriate price for his momentary lapse in judgement? Without question.

In the firestorm following the events of Sept. 3, one comment by Oregon Athletic Director Mike Bellotti stood out.

When asked about public outcry over Blount's actions on the blue turf, Bellotti's standard reply was, "What would YOU do if it was your son? What would you have ME do if it was your son?" While those critical of the University of Oregon would be quick to write off Bellotti's logic, his line of thinking is right on.

How would you have liked your 22-year-old son to be treated if he had made the same mistake? How would you have reacted if your 22-year-old son had allowed his emotions to get the best of him for an unfortunate three minutes? I'm guessing most, if not all of you, would continue to love and support that child.

LeGarrette Blount undoubtedly has now been through the toughest ordeal of his young life. Will he be able to put the pieces of his career back together and realize his dream of playing in the NFL, or will he have to pursue another avenue in life in order to provide for himself and his infant son?

So whether or not you agree with Oregon's decision to reinstate Blount, you should be pulling for him. Not to gain yardage, score touchdowns, or even win games. You should be rooting for him to succeed in life. Wouldn't you do the same for your son?

What do you think: Post a comment with your take on the Blount story

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