FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The testimony for today, children, will be delivered by Brother LeGarrette Blount. Say hello to Brother Blount. Say hallelujah.
Here is a young man who has conquered his bad habits, cast them aside like so many sodden, wet garments, stepped into the sunshine of a new and successful life. The world has become his well-iced oyster. His steps are touched with pixie dust. He is all over the latest editions of "SportsCenter."
He talks to us from the New England Patriots locker room at Gillette Stadium in this first hour of Sunday morning after the New England Patriots thrashed the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 on Saturday night. He scored four touchdowns -- that's right, four -- as the Pats won this division playoff game and made a date next week for the AFC Championship Game.
There are a bunch of people surrounding him. Let's listen.
"Like I said, those guys in front me, they don't get tired," Brother Blount says, after carrying the football 24 times for 166 yards and those four scores. "If they're not going to get tired, I ain't going to get tired. If we're going to be able to keep running the football like that throughout the playoffs, I'll be happy with it."
Isn't that a happy sound? Isn't that a joy?
For most of this season, children, this 27-year-old man was an afterthought in the Patriots' offense. Brought onto the roster in the offseason, one of those small-print transactions nobody really notices, a back-up running back dealt for another back-up running back, a seventh-round draft choice thrown into the pot by the Pats to make the deal more attractive to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brother Blount mostly was the third of three people at his position.
He is a big man, 6-feet, 250 pounds, a power runner, suitable for those hard, crowded yards near the goal line. He seemed to be a specialist in that respect. Need a hard yard? Give the ball to LeGarrette. He seemed set in that role. Big guy. Tough yards.
"They talked to me here about lowering my shoulder pads when I ran," Brother Blount says. "I'm not sure when -- exactly -- they talked to me, but they did. I tried to do it."
For all of his career, he had run straight up. That was his basic style, hitting the holes like a proud Marine marching in a Memorial Day parade, stomach in, chest out, a running back tied to an imaginary 2x4. He had run straight up as a high school kid in Perry, Fla., as a junior college standout at East Mississippi Community College, as a sometimes troubled ball carrier for two years at the University of Oregon. He had run that way for three years with the Bucs.
Every coach on every one of those teams had tried to get him to lower his shoulders. As a big man, he was taller than most linebackers he met at and beyond the line of scrimmage. This meant they were coming at him from a better angle at the start. Then they bent and attacked him even lower. This worked against him instead of for him. He had tried to change his style, but habits are habits. He had run well enough to make the National Football League, hadn't he? He didn't try too hard.
The coaches with the Patriots changed that. They didn't ask. They made him try hard.
"They made me change," Brother Blount says. "I didn't have a choice."
The details aren't necessary. Threats? Promises? People shouting in the earholes of his helmet? Personal counsel from head coach Bill Belichick? The message was clear whatever way it was presented. The road to more time on the field was closed to the straight-up runner. Only a LeGarrette Blount who bent a little bit, who lowered his shoulder pads and could blast those linebackers before they blasted him, would find more time in the lineup.
"So I changed," Brother Blount says. "I lowered my pads. It wasn't easy, changing something you've done all your life, but I did it and I'm glad I did. I wish I'd been able to do it a long time ago."
The breakout moment for the new running style came two weeks ago in the final game of the regular season. In a 34-20 win over the Buffalo Bills, Blount carried the ball 24 times for 189 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned two kickoffs for 145 yards. This gave him a spellbinding 334 total yards. The big man for hard yards typecast role was dropped. He now was a big man (and a surprisingly fast man) for all kinds of yards.
The question was if this was a one-shot deal, an exception. What would happen in the next game against the Colts? Would there be some back-sliding? Would the 2x4 come back?
Well, the four touchdowns probably were an answer for all that.
"Our game plan was to be physical," Brother Blount says. "We didn't know that we were going to be able to dominate, but we knew we were going to be physical. This team takes great pride in being physical."
In a season of surprise stars for the patched-up Pats, he is the latest big surprise. The Pats have evolved from game to game, altering offensive philosophies with different personnel, apparently settling down now as a rushing team. They pounded the ball against the Colts, picking up 234 yards on the ground. They rushed for all six of their touchdowns.
The job of carrying the ball still is shared by three backs -- Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are the other two -- but Brother Blount threatens to become the workhorse. These are All-Pro numbers he has put on the board for two consecutive weeks. He has become a whole lot of fun to watch.
"There's nothing better than seeing that big guy out in the open field," says pulling guard Brother Logan Mankins. "Man, he grabs another gear from somewhere and he starts moving and you know none of those safeties and corners want to tackle him, let alone tackle him when it's one-on-one out there with no one else around. So it's fun to watch him."
"You've just got to keep pushing, man," Brother Ridley, who gained 52 yards himself and scored two touchdowns, says. "You've got to keep pushing. I always say, life is -- it's a journey, man. It's a test of your faith because you're going to have your ups and downs, but you look at Blount, a guy who's never been in the postseason, never been in the playoffs, and he comes in here and plays his butt off. … He's doing a tremendous job right now."
So listen up, children.
Use this story of Brother Blount as your inspiration. Give up your bad habits. Give up your addictions. If it's nicotine or alcohol or that double-cheese Whopper that's troubling you. Or if it's running too stiff that's a problem, making yourself too much of a target, make the change. Do the right thing. Lower your shoulder pads and hit that future head on.
Just like Brother Blount.