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And Another Thing


A Blount assessment

So once again I'm on the minority side of the fence on an issue.

According to all the online polls I've seen, people are ovewhelmingly miffed that Oregon has decided to reinstate LeGarrette Blount, the running back who was originally suspended for the season after punching a Boise State player and trying to go after taunting fans in the Ducks' season-opener.

Head coach Chip Kelly almost immediately backed away from the season suspension, deciding instead to institute a series of conditions Blount had to meet to win reinstatement. Apparently he has met those conditions.

Here's why I don't think this is such a terrible thing:

1. None of us really knows what conditions Kelly imposed, and how tough they were. I suspect, however, that they went beyond simply sitting up straight, brushing his teeth and going to class. If Blount met them to his coach's satisfaction, who is anyone else to say he hasn't earned his way back onto the field?

2. Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, there doesn't seem to be any expedience involved in this decision. If there were, Blount would have been reinstated before the big showdown against USC. Instead, Kelly waited until after Oregon's loss to Stanford.

Besides, Oregon was smoking people without Blount. That sort of takes the wind out of the argument that he's being reinstated just to help the Ducks win football games.

3. The people who are scoffing right now that Blount's been treated to a slap on the wrist from which he'll learn nothing forget the price he's already paid for his actions. He's lost almost his entire season, for starters. And his draft status has plummeted, likely costing him untold millions.

Pretty hard to believe that hasn't taught the guy a lesson or two. Banning him for the entire season seems like piling on in light of that.

There is, after all, punishment for purpose, and then there is punishment just for punishment's sake. One has a point; the other is just pointlessly spiteful.

Oregon's dealt admirably with the first. The second does nothing but sully its own reputation.

Ben Smith's blog.