Bruce Arians explains how he gave Leonard Fournette an ultimatum
Leonard Fournette played a huge role in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the Super Bowl last season with the way he ran down the stretch and into the playoffs. Prior to that, Fournette was so unhappy with his situation that he was nearly released by the team.
Fournette was a healthy scratch for Tampa Bay’s Week 14 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Around that same time, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians says he had a conversation with Fournette during which he gave the veteran an ultimatum — buy in or get lost. Arians recalled the chat during an appearance on the “Pewter Report” podcast this week.
“It was going into the end of the season, and he was unsure of what his role was, or unhappy with what his role was,” Arians said. “We had a walk-through and he was a little bit disinterested. And we had a nice conversation. I said, ‘Look, when you come back on this field, you have 30 seconds to come back here and tell me that you’re all in, or you’re going to ask me to release you. Go inside, call whoever. But you’re not going to sit over there away from everybody. You have a tough decision.'”
Arians said he understood why Fournette was frustrated with his role. He had been accustomed to being a workhorse back, and the Buccaneers didn’t need him to be one. Despite that, Fournette decided he wanted to help the team any way he could, even if it meant playing behind Ronald Jones.
“He came back in 30 minutes and said, ‘Coach, I’m all in’. I said ‘great, because we are going to need you,'” Arians recalled. “Then (Jones) got hurt and Lenny came right to the front and led us all the way.”
Fournette had nearly 450 yards from scrimmage and scored four touchdowns in four playoff games. He ended up enjoying his first season in Tampa Bay so much that he made a sacrifice to re-sign with the team. He’ll likely have to share carries again in 2021, but he knows the Bucs will be prepared to lean on him when it counts.