LeGarrette Blount and Chris Long have a special opportunity
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The list of players who’ve had the strange football fortune to win a Super Bowl with different teams in back-to-back years is a short one.
Ken Norton Jr. did it with the Cowboys in 1993 and the 49ers in 1994. Deion Sanders did it with the 49ers in 1994 and the Cowboys in 1995. Derrick Martin did it with the Packers in 2010 and the Giants in 2011. And Brandon Browner did it with the Seahawks in 2013 and the Patriots in 2014.
LeGarrette Blount and Chris Long have a chance to join the club.
Both won rings with the Patriots last year before leaving for Philadelphia in free agency. Upending their former team in Super Bowl LII would make them the first teammates to accomplish the feat.
“It’s an extremely special opportunity to have,” Blount said. “Obviously, it can go either way. It’s something that not a lot of guys in the NFL have done. So I’m excited about the opportunity to even have a chance to be in that group.”
Blount’s most productive NFL season came last year in New England, when he piled up 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns on 299 carries.
In the three-plus seasons he spent with the Patriots, he left an impression.
“I love LeGarrette,” said Tom Brady. “He and I have always kept in touch, exchange text messages all the time. So happy for him. When he first got to our team, the way that his career has blossomed, he’s an incredible player, an incredible running back, does everything — catches the ball, blitz pickup, runs hard inside, outside, very clutch player.
“I’ve got a ton of respect for him. I wish him the best — obviously not this game because I want us to win — but we’ve got to find a way to contain him. He’s a huge threat out there for our defense.”
But in the lead-up to the Super Bowl, Blount said he’s putting all those ties to the side.
“I play for the Eagles, man,” he said. “I don’t play for the Patriots anymore. I don’t watch the Patriots, I don’t care about the Patriots. I focus on what we need to do to put us in the best position to win this game. I had a great time last year, but last year is last year.”
Blount signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Eagles in May because he believed a team that went 7-9 a year ago was only a few pieces away from putting together a special season.
The Eagles had a void at running back after Ryan Mathews suffered a herniated disk in his neck, and Blount saw the opportunity.
“Obviously with the injury to Ryan Mathews, I felt like they were missing a couple things and I felt like running back was one of them. And obviously I felt like Carson [Wentz] was a very special player in the beginning.”
While his workload decreased in Philadelphia, Blount still rushed for 766 yards and two touchdowns on 173 carries.
He said he has fond memories of his Patriot days but this week isn’t the time to dwell on them.
“You can’t reminisce on anything that happened last year, two years ago, eight years ago,” he said. “You’ve just got to focus on the task at hand.”
A year ago, after a miserable 3-13 season came to an end for the Bears, wideout Alshon Jeffrey stepped out on a limb.
“I guarantee you we are in the Super Bowl next year,” he said.
The dilemma? His future with the Bears was uncertain. He was heading into free agency and the Bears hadn’t extended him the long-term offer he was seeking.
He ended up signing a one-year $14 million deal with the Eagles in March, then a four-year, $52 million extension in December.
He’s in the Super Bowl, just as he predicted, and as far as the guarantee, he’ll take the technicality.
“I never said a team,” he said. “But at the same time, I believe in myself.”
Jeffrey caught 57 passes for 789 yards and nine touchdowns, and put any hard feelings between the Bears behind him.
“A new start,” Jeffrey said. “Chicago is what it is. It didn’t work out. Some things don’t work out as you planned it. I can say that they felt it was time to move on and I thought the same.”
The moment that made the Eagles realize just how far they could go came three weeks into the season.
The franchise record 61-yard field goal that Jake Elliott nailed with one second left on the clock to complete an stunning comeback against the Giants started a nine-game winning streak that created the momentum the Eagles rode all the way to Super Bowl LII.
“You like to think that that kind of sparked a big run there,” Elliott said. “I think it was a big momentum change in our season. A big kick for me, obviously, too. A big confidence booster, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to put that one behind you as you would a miss and just move forward to the next one.
“That’s kind of when we realized this could be a special team.”
His clutch kicks set records at the University of Memphis. Many of the records he broke belonged to Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, Elliott’s longtime mentor.
“He was great,” Elliott said of Gostkowski. “Not so much like a learning thing, just being around him and just seeing how he prepares and goes about his business, that was something I picked up. Then just over the course of time, if I had any questions — leading up to the draft, going to the combine — what advice could he give me there.”