Blount's punch won't go away, but let's hope he grows

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount has been suspended for the entire 2009 season for punching a Boise State player after the Ducks' 19-8 defeat. His moment of stupidity might cost him an NFL career.

Gosh, I hope not.

I wonder what percentage of those NFL decision-makers will write off Blount because he punched a guy in college?

It was a terrible moment for Blount. Terrible. He embarrassed himself, his team and his school. He's lucky Broncos defensive end Byron Hout wasn't seriously hurt. Or that assault charges aren't being filed.

No matter what happens the rest of Blount's life, that film will be a part of who he is. He could win the Nobel Prize and cure cancer and that clip would pop up again.

One day his children will see it.

From this day forward, every time he meets someone, reaches out to shake their hand and says, "Hi, I'm LeGarrette Blount," odds are that person will go, "That's the guy who punched someone after a football game."

So know that Blount will suffer greatly for what he did. The least of his worries is a season-long suspension.

But Blount is not a "thug," according to folks who know Blount at Oregon. My impression of him after the couple of times I've talked to him is he's a good-natured guy.

Is he academically ambitious? Apparently not. Is he fully mature? Nope. Has he maybe been listening to self-interested people whispering in his ear about how great he is or been reading too many of his press clippings? Probably.

But throwing a person in the trash heap should not be done lightly.

The Oregonian reported "Blount will remain in school, on scholarship and in the football program -- through any bowl games the Ducks may play in -- and will practice and have access to the school's support services."

Good for Oregon. Blount helped the Ducks win 10 games last year. Now Oregon, to no benefit for itself, will help Blount learn from his mistakes.

And perhaps get a shot at an NFL career.

Part of my reaction is self-reflection. I, for one, am a person who has acted stupidly many times and find it hard -- and perhaps a bit hypocritical -- to stand in harsh judgment of a college student who threw a punch at someone who was trash talking him.

That doesn't excuse Blount. He deserves punishment. A season-long suspension is just.

A life-long one is not.

Let's not write him off as a terrible person. Let's root for him to grow from this.

Forgiveness is good.