GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFLA) – The road to Super Bowl LV is not an easy one, and for Leonard Fournette, it has been especially challenging.
“I was crying for like 30 minutes a couple of minutes ago on the phone with my mom and my dad,” admitted Fournette after the NFC championship game Sunday afternoon.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back could not contain the tears after helping his team defeat the Green Bay Packers. He rushed for 55 yards and had one touchdown.
“You don’t get this moment. It doesn’t come back to you,” said Fournette. “It is hard to make it to the playoffs. It is hard to make this run.”
Fournette, who was the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, advanced to the AFC championship game with the Jacksonville Jaguars in his first year in the league. The following two seasons proved to be less fruitful with more losses than wins for the Jaguars.
That trouble turned toward Fournette. He was arrested for charges relating to multiple traffic violations in April of 2019 and then, after his most productive season in Jacksonville, the organization cut him claiming it was “best for our team.”
Now, Fournette is traveling in a new direction with a new team.
“It feels good just to be a part of being a Buc,” said Fournette. “I just thank God every day.”
He shared the reasons for those happy tears following that victory in Green Bay.
“It was about my journey,” he said, “first from Jacksonville, from jail, from me getting cut, and I think it is wonderful how it is playing out.”
Unfortunately, the bumpy road did not disappear when he arrived in Tampa and he found himself trailing his teammate, Ronald Jones, in carries.
“I come here with the hope of being a starter,” admitted Fournette, “and it didn’t work out and I had ups and downs this whole season.”
He managed to persevere with the support of the people around him.
“With guys like Brady and Shady and Coach [Todd McNair], even Coach BA,” said Fournette, “we had our personal talks. I remember I was upset plenty of times after the games for me not getting the ball so [Bruce Arians] just sat down and had a real talk with me and I just had to get my mind right.”
He has switched his mindset and he has proven to be invaluable to the Buccaneers in the postseason.
Fournette rushed for 211 yards and had two touchdowns in three playoff games. He rushed for 367 yards over 13 games in the regular season.
You can easily see why he was emotional after the win that will take him to his first Super Bowl, Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.
“I sat down and I called my mom and my dad because they are the ones who have been there the whole time, from when I got cut, when I came here, they understand me,” said Fournette, “and they know how much I love football and, when things were not going my way, my mom kept telling me that God is going to make a way for you and that way ended up being the end of the season during the playoffs and I am just thankful for my journey.”