It’s been a big year for Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette. After the team made him the No. 4 overall pick in last April’s draft, there was so much pressure on the LSU product to deliver for a team that hadn’t had a quality ground game in years. Well, through the first 12 weeks of the 2017 NFL season, Fournette hasn’t disappointed.
As I’m sure the Jaguars PR department appreciates, Fournette isn’t just shining on the field. As we see in the below video, he’s also making a huge impact in the lives of fans (and not just from a fantasy perspective).
Here’s this moment prior to Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, during which he delivered a special gift to a fan in a wheelchair. First, he hands the fan (only referred to as “Kevin”) a pair of autographed cleats before embracing him and leaving him smiling from ear to ear.
Seriously, it was an awesome gesture from a guy with a long, fruitful NFL career still ahead of him.
— Brent Martineau (@BrentASJax) November 26, 2017
While that moment before the game was so touching, what happened on the field wasn’t nearly as wonderful.
Falling in line with the Jaguars’ eventual loss on the day, it was a rough game for Fournette. The rookie runner managed only 42 yards on 15 touches, a disappointing effort for Jacksonville’s rising star. It, however, shouldn’t take away from the fact that he’s having an outstanding rookie season.
Through nine games (he missed two midseason games due to injury), Fournette has racked up 938 total yards and seven total touchdowns. Although he’s a bit too far behind to really warrant serious consideration for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, I feel pretty safe saying the Jaguars are very happy with how they spent their 2017 first-round pick.
Here’s some more input from Saturday Down South, a site covering SEC football:
That’s a classy gesture from Fournette, and one the young rookie has been known to make, as he has a very generous spirit… The gesture above made that fan’s day, and the Jaguars are still tied for first place in the AFC South, so there’s still plenty of playoff hope in Jacksonville.
Fournette has always been seen as a class act. This is just the latest example of his eagerness to give back to the football community that has allowed him to live in the spotlight.
Here’s a quote from former college coach Ed Orgeron, via Fox Sports:
Orgeron also raved about Fournette’s character and competitive spirit. ‘He’s always been a leader. He’s emotional in the locker room. He worked his ass off to be out there (against Ole Miss on Saturday night). He’s nothing like some of these guys wanna think he is (that he would shut it down this season to save himself for his future NFL career).’
Or maybe this will help you see the true character of Fournette, via Diverse’s James Ewers:
What happened after the game was one of the most poignant and heart-warming moments you will ever see at a college football game. Just as the television reporter was getting ready to interview Fournette about the victory, he pulls out a prepared statement and reads it.
In the statement, he expresses his empathy and deep concern for the citizens of the state of South Carolina because of the hurricane and the destruction left in its wake. Fournette goes on to state that he fully understands what they are going through because of what he, his family and the city of New Orleans went through with Hurricane Katrina.
Fournette’s plan to auction off his No. 7 jersey that he wore in the game has been approved by the NCAA.
Between Orgeron’s comments and Fournette’s compassion towards South Carolina’s hurricane victims, the actions of the Jaguars rookie from Sunday make perfect sense. Not only is he a terrific football player, but he wins off the field as well. It’s a sight for sore eyes when we see professional athletes take that extra step and make a fan’s day with a small act of kindness.
It’s looking like Jacksonville found themselves a top-notch running back and person when they selected Fournette back in April. Kudos to the scouting department for hitting the nail on the head with that one.