Former Jags RB coach says team tried to ‘blackball’ Leonard Fournette

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Former Jacksonville Jaguars and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette has faced scrutiny since he entered the league as the fourth overall pick back in 2017. Though his career got off to a great start as a rookie, his production in Jacksonville slowed after that, and the team decided to waive him heading into the 2020 season.

Jaguars fans know what happened next. Fournette had a resurgence as a role player in Tampa’s backfield, and he captured a Super Bowl ring. Though things seemed to work out for Fournette, he’s still not happy about the way his time with the Jags came to an end. And he’s not alone.

Terry Robiskie, who was the Jaguars’ running back coach in 2019 and 2020, said that the Jaguars attempted to “blackball” Fournette from the team.

“I would say, yes, without a question, the Jaguars were trying to blackball him,” Robiskie said to ESPN. “It certainly wasn’t the president or the head coach or the GM, but I do know, coming out of that building, some people had said something to other teams that wasn’t true about Leonard at all.”

Fournette, for his part, echoed these sentiments

“I don’t know. What you think?” Fournette said. “I mean, you see me every day now. Do you all think it was true? I mean, you all have been around me almost a year now. Who knows, man. … I don’t know. But that’s the word that Jacksonville had put out on me, so, who knows?”

At the time, then-Jags head coach Doug Marrone said that the team had tried to trade Fournette but couldn’t receive adequate compensation from him. But Robiskie said he suspects something more nefarious was at play.

“They weren’t trying to trade him,” Robiskie said. “They were trying to cut him. Because to trade him and to have someone say, ‘We’ll give you a fifth-round pick,’ or ‘We’ll give you a sixth-round pick,’ that means he’s got value. But to cut him is degrading, especially to cut a No. 1 draft choice from three years ago, who just the year before had 1,800 yards of total offense, who pretty much just led your team in receptions. … That is the true epitome of cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

Fournette went on to have the last laugh, as he finished with 367 yards and six touchdowns as part of a championship backfield. The Jaguars made out alright, as well, finding a gem in undrafted rookie James Robinson, who was a top-five rusher last year. But with a new regime in place, the Jags will hope the souring of relationships with top draft picks is a thing of the past.