Leonard Fournette was sitting in his wrecked Mercedes
One of the first responders wanted Jacksonville’s rookie running back to sign something.
It wasn’t a hat, a jersey or a football, either. The man asked Fournette to autograph the damaged bumper off his $200,000 car.
”The bumper was on the ground and he just came out of nowhere like, `Man, can you sign this for me?'” Fournette said Thursday. ”I’m like, `You want me to sign a bumper?'”
Fournette said it’s ”the first and hopefully last” automotive part that garners his signature.
If the former LSU star keeps playing like he did at Pittsburgh last week, there’s no telling what he’ll be asked to sign next.
Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns against the Steelers despite re-injuring his right ankle in the first half. It was his most productive game in three months, a positive sign for the Jaguars (12-6) as they prepare for the AFC championship game at New England (14-3).
”I feel good in spite of the ankle and stuff,” Fournette said. ”Just taking care of my body, but overall I feel good.”
Jacksonville’s ground game looked better than it has in weeks. The NFL’s top rushing attack stalled down the stretch , averaging 3.58 yards a carry over the final seven weeks of the regular season, and was mostly inept in a wild-card victory against Buffalo until quarterback Blake Bortles started scrambling.
Fournette’s return to form couldn’t have come at a better time.
”Collectively, as a group, I feel like everyone came to play their part,” Fournette said. ”Everyone come out with it on their minds, especially from the get-go with being physical.”
Fournette averaged 4.4 yards a rush against the Steelers, finding room to run outside and turning small holes between the tackles into big gains. He scored three times D.K. Metcalf Jersey , using his speed to get to the corner on one and leaping over defenders and across the goal line for another.
”We challenged these guys early,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. ”Just because you have success one week doesn’t mean you’re going to have success the next. It’s just one of those things where it’s on the line, on Leonard, on the group, on Blake, all the things that were going on.
”It’s about wanting to do it and understanding what you’re trying to do.”
Now the Jaguars hope to have a repeat performance against the Patriots, who ranked 20th against the run this season.
Fournette looked as healthy as he has since initially spraining his right ankle in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in mid-October. Fournette ran for 130 yards in that game, which followed a season-high, 181-yard performance the week before at Pittsburgh.
Fournette missed three of the next eight games because of the ankle and a bruised quadriceps muscle. And in the games he did play, instead of ripping off long runs and grinding out tough yards, Fournette was slowed to a crawl.
The Jaguars were ecstatic to see him get back on track last week even though he left the game briefly to get his ankle checked out and taped up.
Concerns returned Tuesday after his fender-bender.
”You know what I always say about car accidents?” coach Doug Marrone said. ”It’s one of those things. You can get into a car accident and feel pretty good, (and) two days later, you wake up and I don’t know. That hasn’t happened yet. I never put that past car accidents.”
Fournette was limited in practice this week, but insists he’ll be good to go for the game.
His car won’t be so lucky. It’s in the shop getting repaired.
”The bumper’s probably like $50,000 by itself,” Fournette said. ”I don’t know what insurance they have or who they’re with, but …”
His voice quavering at an unexpected news conference, Sandy Alderson revealed what he had just told his team moments before.
His cancer has returned, he’s taking a leave of absence – and his up-and-down tenure as New York Mets general manager is essentially over.
With the team in a massive tailspin Nick Bosa Jersey , chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and the 70-year-old Alderson made the announcement before Tuesday night’s game against Pittsburgh.
”With respect to the future, I would say two things: One is, notwithstanding the good prognosis, my health is an uncertainty going forward,” said Alderson, who agreed to a contract extension in December. ”And secondly, if I were to look at it on the merits, I’m not sure coming back is warranted.”
Asked whether he would like Alderson to resume his GM dutiesif his health eventually allowed that, Wilpon answered the same way twice: ”I think his health and his family are first and foremost.”
Assistant general manager John Ricco and special assistants J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya will run the club’s baseball operations in Alderson’s absence. Minaya preceded Alderson as Mets general manager, and Ricciardi was GM of the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001-09.
Alderson was hired by the Mets after the 2010 season. He was diagnosed with cancer at the end of the 2015 season and had surgery, but stayed on the job. He reduced his work schedule at times but remained in a full-time role while undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
”One difference between then and now is that that took place in the offseason,” Alderson said. ”I had a surgery in the offseason, I had some chemo in the offseason. Much easier to manage that with offseason activity. I had the decision-making authority basically at that time. I will not have the decision-making authority going forward. If people want to call me, they’re welcome to do so. But at the same time, I don’t expect to be involved in day-to-day activity.”
Ricciardi, Minaya and first-year manager Mickey Callaway were all in the interview room at Citi Field when Alderson and Wilpon made the announcement.
Wilpon said Alderson informed him of his decision Sunday.
”It is paramount to all of us that care greatly for Sandy that he makes this a priority for him and his family,” Wilpon said, later adding: ”The wear and tear on Sandy, I’ve seen up close and personal. I talked to him a couple times about maybe taking a leave http://www.cardinalscheapstore.com/byron-murphy-jersey-cheap , maybe stepping away a little bit, and I had sort of forgotten about it because so much has been going on.”
According to players, Alderson broke down a bit as he spoke to his teary-eyed team in the clubhouse before addressing the media.
”It definitely puts life in perspective,” said outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who was Alderson’s first amateur draft pick in 2011. ”Just very somber news that we received. Our heart’s broken for him. He’s been through this battle before. He knows what’s in store.”
Mets captain David Wright, sidelined by injuries for more than two years, said players stood and gave Alderson a round of applause.
”I think there was a lot of jaws hitting the floor,” Wright recalled. ”I think we had a bit of an emotional talk. It wasn’t long, but at the end we certainly wanted to pay him respect.”
Alderson said a recurrence of his cancer was detected around late April or early May and he’s been receiving treatment since.
”I expect that the treatment will continue, expect to have surgery later this summer. My prognosis is actually good. But in the meantime, the chemotherapy, the surgery, all take their toll,” Alderson said.
He said the treatment affects his energy level and leads to other side effects, explaining why he hasn’t been traveling on road trips lately.
”Which makes it difficult to stay up with sort of the pace, the tempo of the every day,” Alderson said. ”Operations continue, the game continues, we have a season to play. So I think in the best interests of the Mets and for my health Dre'Mont Jones Jersey , this is the right result.
”I feel badly that we’ve had the season that we have had to date. I feel personally responsible for the results that we’ve had,” he added. ”At the same time, I have confidence in our manager, our coaching staff, our players, that this will change. John, Omar, J.P., I’m sure will take a hard look at where we are, maybe take a fresh look at where we are and I have every confidence that they will serve the franchise well over the next few months through the end of the season.”
Alderson’s departure comes at a pivotal time for the Mets ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Needing an infusion of young talent, they will likely look to sell off pending free agents such as closer Jeurys Familia, second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera and outfielder Jose Bautista. But ace pitchers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard could command a huge return, and the front office must decide whether to embark on such a significant overhaul.
New York reached the 2015 World Series after rebuilding under Alderson and made it back to the playoffs the following year, but injuries and underperformance have decimated the team since.
After going 70-92 last year, the Mets replaced manager Terry Collins with Callaway and spent nearly $90 million to fill holes in free agency. They jumped out to an 11-1 start this season, but a 6-24 slide left them 31-45 with the fewest wins in the National League going into Tuesday night’s game.
”It’s been incredibly difficult,” Alderson said. ”And I’m reall