We’ve seen plenty of interesting gifts from running backs to their blockers over the years, and the latest to fit in there is Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Leonard Fournette. Fournette, a strong contender for the NFL’s Rookie of the Year award after rushing for 1,040 yards this season, has ordered expensive personalized watches for the Jaguars’ five starters and two reserves who also started games, as ESPN’s Michael DiRocco reports:
“Just to show them the dedication and all the hard work they put in to help me to get me where I’m at and also for this team,” Fournette said. “Their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Fournette said he purchased watches for left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Patrick Omameh, center Brandon Linder, right guard A.J. Cann, and right tackle Jermey Parnell. He also bought ones for reserve center/guard Tyler Shatley and reserve swing tackle Josh Wells, both of whom started games when Parnell, Linder, Robinson and Omameh were injured.
Fournette said he had their number and initials engraved on each watch.
“I couldn’t do it myself,” Fournette said of his 1,000-yard season. “I can’t block 11 guys on my own. That’s the O-line, and wide receivers, too. They played a big part of contributing to me getting 1,000 yards.”
That’s a solid move from Fournette, especially considering how he bought the backups watches as well. And while he can afford it (even under the new lower rookie scale, his first contract will still earn him an estimated $27 million over four years as the fourth-overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft), there’s nothing specifically requiring him to do this. Skill players get a lot of the attention and a lot of the compensation in the NFL, but the linemen are often just as important to team success or lack thereof, and it’s cool that Fournette is doing this to give his blockers some attention, plus a pretty nice personal gift.
The Jaguars will face the Buffalo Bills in the AFC wild card round this Sunday. We’ll see what Fournette and their linemen can do in that one. But they’ve certainly done an impressive job in the ground game this year. And while much of the media coverage has centered on Fournette and what he’s brought to Jacksonville, any successful ground game starts with the guys up front. Fournette certainly recognizes that, and the guys who spent all season blocking for him will have some nice watches to wear as a result. At the very least, this is a better present than, say, the Jaguars’ teal hamburger buns.