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Antonio Pierce Says New York Giants LB Chase Blackburn is Team’s “Heart Beat”

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The NFL is full of heart-warming stories, and New York Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn is one of them.

Blackburn spent most of his years with the Giants as a special teams player rarely, if ever, seeing time on the field as a defensive player. He, amazingly, has lasted with this team since 2005. That is a testament to not only what Tom Coughlin values in his players and his teams, but a testament to how much Blackburn has meant for this squad.

He never complained. He never gave up. He never stopped working.

You could never question Blackburn’s effort, though some continually questioned his talent. It was not without reason. I mean how can you not question the talent of a guy who spends his entire career almost exclusively on special teams.

When Antonio Pierce was forced to retire after the 2009 season, the window of opportunity opened for Blackburn to win the starting spot. However, he lost the job to Jonathan Goff. Blackburn spent the 2010 season as the backup middle linebacker and, once again, played special teams and played it well.

The following year the Giants lost Goff to a torn ACL and went through a multitude of different options at middle linebacker. They ultimately began losing the position altogether and adopting a 4-2-5 look, with Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael Boley playing linebacker. Blackburn had been released just before the season.

But after Boley went out with an injury, and Greg Jones and Mark Herzlich clearly were not ready to start, the Giants turned to Blackburn. He was substitute teaching in Ohio at the time,but the Giants could not afford to bring someone in that did not know the defense.

Blackburn, like he had his entire career, did exactly what the Giants needed him to do and stepped up in their time of need. With this second chance the Giants gave him, he rewarded them with terrific play. He even made a crucial play in the Super Bowl, intercepting Tom Brady while guarding Rob Gronkowski.

We’ve seen a transformation with Blackburn. He is now the leader of the defense and they are worse without him. He missed Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and they gashed the Giants for over 150 yards rushing.

Pierce, the guy he essentially replaced, believes Blackburn is the “heart beat” of the team.

“Chase was just basically a body bag when he first got there,” Pierce said. “He’d be there to go in when guys were nicked up. But that guy, he just stuck in my ear, 24-7, asking question after question. I never saw anything like it. He’s done a great job. And he knows what he does well. If you’re lacking something, do whatever you have to do to not get in that position. That’s what he does.”

Clearly Blackburn has gotten better over the years and is making the most of this second opportunity. Stories like this are what make watching sports that much better, and I hope we continue to see Blackburn man the middle of the defense, which is no less than he deserves.

 Jeff is an NFL Featured Columnist for RantSports.com. Like Jeff’s Facebook Page here. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Shull

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