Bucs nearly cut Leonard Fournette until Antonio Brown stepped in

Antonio Brown might have been a bigger role in the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl run than pundits care to admit. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a force that wasn’t slowing down heading into the postseason. A 4-0 run culminating in a 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bucs finished the year on top for the first time since 2003.

One of the biggest reasons for Tampa Bay’s success was its ability to build a running game. Thus enter the legend of Leonard “Playoff Lenny” Fournette. And thanks to his consistent play in the postseason, Tampa Bay will be able to celebrate all offseason.

What’s crazy about Fournette’s situation is that it almost never happened. Without the help of Antonio Brown, perhaps the former Jacksonville running back would’ve been out of a job.

According to a story from the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud, Fournette would have been cut if not for Brown.

Brown to the rescue for Fournette?

Fournette was listed as inactive in the team’s Week 14 26-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. For the next week, he spent time on the practice squad, working with the scout team offense rather than getting first-team reps.

With Ronald Jones suffering a quad injury prior to Wild Card Weekend, Arians called upon Fournette to play the next man up role. He exceeded those expectations, tallying 448 total yards of offense and four touchdowns and the postseason.

His 27-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of Super Bowl LV gave Tampa Bay a 28-9 lead. Tampa would go on to win 31-9, holding Patrick Mahomes out of the end zone for the entire game.

Playoff Lenny became an icon and a fan favorite due to his epic comeback story. His lasting memory of the 2020 postseason concluded when he found the end zone for the fourth time in four games. After being called a bust in Jacksonville, his revival proved that anyone can rewrite their own story.