Prior to the 2013 NFL draft, Eddie Lacy from the University of Alabama was projected to be the first running back taken in the late first round. However, leading up to the draft, Lacy was unable to work out at the combine (hamstring), and only ran a so-so 40-yard dash at his college pro-day.
In addition, in his interviews, team general managers came away perplexed, mistaking his matter of fact low key personality as ‘indifferent.’ As a result, just about every team in the NFL passed on him at least once, and most twice.
They also saw the medical reports on his toe and when they read the word “fusion” and toe in the same report, many a team, including the Pittsburg Steelers, shied away from the 5-11, 230-pound back.
That was mistake number two.
The monotone attitude came from his background, most specifically Hurricane Katrina, as he and his family had to move around and live with strangers while his parents kept the family afloat. So the ‘indifference’ GMs took as not caring, actually stemmed from the fact he had experienced LIFE in a way few had, and though football was very important to him, his life experiences made him realize football is not the most important thing in life.
The toe fusion? Normally a toe is fused down the toe at a joint or nearby, but Lacy’s fusion was across the tip of his big toe, making the fusion a non-factor teams didn’t realize until after the draft.
Lacy eventually landed with the Packers lap at pick number 61, the fourth running back taken. Ahead of Lacy in the draft in reverse order was Wisconsin’s Monte Ball (Denver), the Steelers Le’Veon Bell, the bruising 6-1, 244-pound back from Michigan State, and UNC’s Giovani Bernard. (Cincinnati).
Ironically, Bell would be the one to miss time early in the season due to a toe injury, but has played the past 11 games, and seems to be the real deal, just as Lacy has already proven to be.
Lacy missed one-plus games earlier in the season (concussion), but now is the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
• Lacy has 248 carries for 1,028 yards, a 4.1 ave and 8 TDs. He also has 31 receptions for 236 yards.
• Bell has 198 carries for 648 yards, a 3.3 average, and 6 TDs. He also has 43 receptions for 388 yards.
The Steelers (6-8) and Packers (7-6-1) meet at Lambeau Field this Sunday in a win or go home game, and both Bell and Lacy on a frozen track will be focal points for both offenses, and most certainly for both opposing defenses.
It should be a good one, and the running back battle will be fun to watch all game long.