LeGarrette Blount was prepared for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts - and not just physically. Between practices last week, the 28-year-old back trademarked “Blount Force Trauma” the catchphrase he apparently plans to popularize by beating defensive linemen into submission with his giant head and Madden-worthy spin move. Blount, who was cut by Pittsburgh earlier this season, is capitalizing on his ability to fail up and run downhill, but he’s not the only back who can do paperwork: The 28-year-old Seahawks Pro-Bowler Marshawn Lynch trademarked “Beast Mode” years ago.
Ask a Seahawks fan and they’ll tell you: Anything Blount can do, Lynch can do better. He’s already getting royalties for “Beast Mode” bling and his statistics bear that theory out, but defining the differences isn’t as intriguing as tracking the similarities. Let’s rephrase that summation: Anything Lynch can do, Blount can do the hard way.
Marshawn Lynch grew up in Oakland, where his feet got him a lot of scouts’ attention and a scholarship to Berkeley. In the PAC-12, he was known for keeping his feet and having a great attitude. He was drafted in the first round and quickly found a place as a starter thanks to a bruising running style and ludicrous yards after contact. He spent much of this year picking a fight with the press, which loves him.
LeGarrette Blount grew up in Madison, Florida, where he earned very little attention from scouts despite being a track star and very large. After enrolling at East Mississippi Community College, Blount put up two 1,000-yard seasons and got the call from the Oregon Ducks. In the PAC-12, he was known for keeping his feet and having a bad attitude. He punched a guy from Berkeley. He was not drafted and became a free agent with the Titans. He punched a guy again then bounced around the league until Pittsburgh cut him this year for leaving a game early. The Pats picked him up and he made peace with the local press, which loves him.
One story is about a talented guy who everyone agrees is talented succeeding after everyone agrees he’ll probably succeed. The other story is about a talented guy who no one can agree on succeeding after years of missed opportunities and self-sabotage. There’s a lot to admire about both guys - most of it relating to the way they run with a football - but the juxtaposition is striking. LeGarrette is the bad guy trying to be good to Marshawn’s good guy trying to be bad (cool crotch grab bro). They are bizarro versions of each other and, in many ways, the perfect representatives of their respective teams’ attitudes.
The Patriots, frontrunners for the better part of a decade, have always fetishized their come-from-behind grit and repurposed players no one else wanted. Led by a quarterback that will not allow you to forget the round in which he was drafted (Hint: Not the first), Belichick’s boys are always trying to prove themselves - even when they have nothing in particular to prove. By contrast, the Seahawks are a bunch of loudmouth thugs known for their superior academics, impressive resumes, and charity work. They talk like bullies and behave like valedictorians. One doesn’t imagine Richard Sherman being super interested in learning about “The Patriots Way” even though he embodies it.
Any team’s constituent parts are held together by shared aspiration and it’s no different for the Patriots or the Seahawks. Those aspirations are neatly embodied by the teams backs: one that doesn’t want to talk to you and one that wants a chance to explain himself; one that envies the other’s rep and one that envies the others success.
Will they cancel each other out? That’s not how this game works. What they’ll do is knock people down. Put a Ying and a Yang together and you get a goddamn bowling ball.
Photos by Jim Davis / The Boston Globe / Getty Images Photo Right: AP Photo / Jeff Chiu