Green Bay Packers star running back Eddie Lacy was benched earlier this year for conditioning issues and for missing a team curfew, but even these minor transgressions serve as a way of making him all the more lovable in the eyes of NFL fans.
Punished in Week 13 for missing curfew, Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy was given a second chance to right the ship, and he made head coach Mike McCarthy, who re-assumed play-calling duties this past week, proud. Prior to his re-submission into McCarthy’s doghouse in Week 13, Lacy had cobbled together back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances, and, against the Dallas Cowboys, he made it three straight triple-digit rushing games in three straight starts.
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It was the best game of Lacy’s up-and-down 2015 season, as the former Alabama superstar racked up a season-high 124 yards on 24 carries, scoring just his third rushing touchdown of the season in the process. Lacy was given an opportunity to redeem himself after many were questioning his love for the game, and he delivered in a big way in front of the home fans.
With the Packers passing attack middling in effectiveness due to the fact that Randall Cobb is the lone reliable option for Aaron Rodgers, the rushing attack has taken on greater importance. James Starks will continue to be a key change-of-pace back and is coming off of yet another efficient outing on the ground, but it’s clear that Lacy is as important as ever as the team’s feature back.
Lacy has been among the league leaders in yards after contact per carry despite his slow start to the season, and the only thing missing from the stat sheet are touchdowns. Those will pour in as the 20-carry days keep coming, especially since he’s already doing a solid job of getting more than what’s put in front of him.
According to Sporting Charts, Lacy is 10th in the league among all players with fewer than 175 carries (including a wide receiver in Tavon Austin) in runs of at least ten yards, and he’s 16th in First Down%. That’s not great, but it’s pretty good for a player who didn’t exactly put his best foot forward in the first half of the season.
It’s this sort of in-season comeback story that makes Lacy the kind of player most fans enjoy rooting for, and the legend of “Fat Eddie Lacy” only adds to his appeal. He’s this endearing character whose 2015 season follows a path that seems to come out of a children’s movie.
I mean, he started off the season as the chubby, out-of-shape guy who let himself go after being a hero who ran for over 1,100 yards in his first two seasons. After climbing that hurdle to torch the rival Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, he gets in trouble again. This time, it’s for having a little too much fun with his buddy Alonzo Harris, causing Harris to get cut and Lacy to get benched.
In this “film”, McCarthy is like the dad figure who says, “Alright, it’s time for me to teach this free-spirited kid a lesson about hard work and show him how much he’ll miss the game if he doesn’t take it seriously.”
McCarthy seemed like the overly strict leader, but, really, he was pulling for Lacy all along, sending some tough love his way.
Lacy, of course, recognized this, and this quote only makes him even easier to like.
He said, “I know the last few weeks, things were a little different, but I think it was just the way to show me this is what I love to do and, without it, I’m miserable. And with Coach taking me out and going through that, it just showed me that’s not what I want. And by him giving me a chance to come out and redeem myself, I think it was just a blessing in disguise.”Dec 13, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) walks off the field after helping the Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 28-7 at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
The above quote comes from the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Ryan Wood, and I would highly recommend following this link if you want to read an incredible piece about Lacy that involves, you know, actual journalistic work.
Anyway, Lacy went from being the out-of-shape, goofy RB partying with his buddy to a born-again man who found himself after his coach decided to teach him a lesson. In a way, his benching against the Lions was the climax of it all.
Lacy had great games against the Vikings and Bears, sure, but the benching served as a way to ground him, reminding him that it’s about more than just celebrating two big games; it’s about the game itself.
With all the nasty things fans say on social media about players, I have yet to find someone who legitimately dislikes Lacy.
Even the “fat” comments aren’t insults, they are jokes meant to re-enforce this larger idea that Lacy is an easy-to-root-for, young star whose minor misadventures make him a better person and, well, make us like him more. He seems quite relatable, as evidenced by the above quote from Wood’s article.