Tired of Deflategate? Luckily, there are no shortage of conspiracy theories when it comes to the New England Patriots.
While the NFL investigates whether the team that brought America Spygate may have underinflated footballs used in the AFC championship game, there’s fresh fodder with Super Bowl XLIX just days away. This time, the whispers and chin-scratching surrounds the fortuitous string of events that brought running back LeGarrette Blount back to the team. After spending the 2013 season with New England, Blount signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent, but his relationship with the team rapidly deteriorated. The question that’s fueling the conspiracy fires is whether he exacerbated the situation, knowing that if he were released, the Patriots would pick him up.
Blount and Le’Veon Bell were arrested on marijuana-related charges, then, with Bell rising to the role of No. 1 running back, Blount became increasingly disgruntled and walked off the field before the end of a game Nov. 17. Not long after, the Steelers cut him and he was signed that very week by the Patriots, for whom he was a known commodity. In 11 games with Pittsburgh, he rushed for 266 yards on 65 carries; in five games in New England, he rushed for 281 yards on 60 carries.
Still, with everyone scrutinizing every move the Patriots make, this one is under the microscope now. Blount and the Patriots say there was nothing untoward.
“Things didn’t work out as planned [in Pittsburgh],” Blount said Tuesday at Super Bowl Media Day (via The Post’s Mark Maske). “We decided to part ways and I ended up here, and now I’m about to play in the Super Bowl.”
Blount was asked if he knew he’d have a job waiting in New England if he and the Steelers parted. Blount offered no answer. Pressed again, he offered: “I didn’t know nothin’.”
He did reveal one very telling thing, though: He was in almost constant contact with his former Patriots teammates, especially running back Stevan Ridley.
“I stayed close with a lot of guys,” Blount said. “I stayed close with Ridley. I stayed close with Shane [Vereen]. I stayed close with all of my running backs. I stayed close with Devin [McCourty]. I stayed close with a lot of guys. Like I said, it’s a close-knit team. It’s really like a brotherhood.
“They supported me through everything that I’ve been through.”
Blount also wouldn’t say how quickly Belichick reached out after he was cut. “He just said, ‘Be ready to go,'” Blount said.
There are no rules prohibiting the way in which Blount ended up in New England, unless it is determined that the Patriots somehow tampered to obtain his services, and any other NFL team could have signed him.
“We tried to sign LeGarrette in the offseason,” Belichick said back in November. “That didn’t work out, which is the NFL. It’s the business part of the NFL. He was released. He was available, and we were able to work it out for him to come back here, so we’re glad to have him back.”
With Ridley injured, Blount quickly moved ahead of Jonas Gray.
“They knew that I could run the football,” Blount said. “They know that I can be effective with it. They know that I have big-play potential. They like my style of running and I fit in perfectly with this offense. It was a perfect matchup.”
And a lucky one.