Leonard Fournette tunes out the distractions: ‘My job is to play football’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Trade rumors flew in the offseason and Leonard Fournette did his best to not stress about them.

The fourth-year Jaguars running back said that he’s approaching this season with one goal — playing football. It may very well be his final season in Jacksonville, but Fournette isn’t talking about next year. He wants to go out strong and help the team that drafted him pivot in the right direction.

Whether or not that future includes Fournette or another reset at the position isn’t the conversation right now. Building off of a solid 2019 season and letting the chips fall where they may in 2021 is what Fournette is focused on.

Fournette rushed for 1,152 yards and had 522 yards receiving, both career highs. He managed just three touchdowns, an area that needs to improve in 2020.

“I mean just do what I did last year. I don’t think I had a bad season last year – 1,700 total yards, whatever I had – and like I said, everything is going to take care of itself,” Fournette said. “Despite everything that happened and what’s going on, at the end of the day my job is to play football.”

Fournette hasn’t had the type of career with the Jaguars since being selected with the fourth overall pick in 2017 and that has been magnified by the success of other players taken after him in that same draft. Christian McCaffrey (eighth), Patrick Mahomes (10th) and Deshaun Watson (12th) all went in the vicinity of Fournette.

Fournette had his fifth-year option declined by the Jaguars.

He has had growing pains, including an arrest for an unpaid traffic ticket in early 2019 and being publicly called out by former front office exec Tom Coughlin after the Week 17 finale in 2018. Those were growing pains in the maturing process.

Fournette said that he’s been misinterpreted during his pro career, labeled as angry or abrasive, when he thinks highly competitive is far more fitting. Fournette said that his first season was incredible. He rushed for 1,040 yards and a career-best nine TDs and the Jaguars reached the AFC championship game.

Since then, Jacksonville has been all over the place and the team imploded last year with numerous locker room and on-the-field woes that pockmarked a 6-10 season and led to a year of trading and releasing players.

“At the end of the day, I want to win. Who doesn’t want to win? I came from a 2017 season with a team who was 10-6, we had talent level and then the next couple of years went down the drain,” Fournette said.

“So, I just want to address a lot of things, too, especially since the media came out and said I was an angry guy. Number one, would you be angry if you’re losing week in and week out? That is one of my biggest problems, I do get upset when we lose and it takes me awhile to get over it.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.