When the Patriots' 53-man roster was announced in September, some people were surprised to see that BenJarvus Green-Ellis was on it.
Not the practice squad, The Team.
Bill Belichick had all these other running backs: Fred Taylor, Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, all role players who were expected to perform well in those roles.
What did he need with Green-Ellis?
This question was nothing new to the New Orleans native who had lived on the bubble from the beginning of his professional career last year.
Picked up as an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss on May 2, 2008, Green-Ellis was cut by the end of the summer and placed on the practice squad.
The Patriots seemed to have all the ground game they needed in Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, LaMont Jordan, Kevin Faulk and Heath Evans, but "Benny," as Belichick calls BJGE, was waiting in the wings.
Good thing too, because one by one, Maroney, Morris, Jordan, et al either went down with season-ending injuries or just became too banged up to perform consistently. By the fifth game of the 2008 season, Benny was placed on the active roster.
In week six, a huge loss to San Diego, he played a little and caught one pass for nine yards. Big deal.
In week ten, we witnessed his break-out game, in which he ran for 105 yards on 26 carries, culminating in a one-yard TD run that put the Patriots ahead 20-3 over the Bills.
In a postgame interview, he answered every question with "No, sir," or "Yes, ma'am," and praised his teammates and coaches with great humility. He thanked his parents.
Hey, I'm a native Southerner too, and that stuff never fails to make an impression on me.
In week 13, he showed he could catch a ball too, hauling in a 20-yarder in a losing cause against the Steelers.
Green-Ellis had by that time picked up the nickname "Law Firm" among his teammates because he has so many names.
His mother is Latonia Green, and she just happened to like the name BenJarvus, so she went with it. His dad is named Ronald Ellis. Put all that together, and you have Law Firm.
Coming into this season, I was surprised that so many New England fans expected him not to make the team. I started to think there was something I had to be missing.
Along about now, I'm realizing once again that Bill Belichick is just a genius, that's all. He had his eye on this kid all along, going on record last year as saying that he would have drafted Firm if he had had to, but things worked out so that it was unnecessary.
Turns out Firm was just as happy to go undrafted. He got calls from a few different teams, so he had a choice. And he chose the Patriots.
Belichick has publicly praised Law Firm not only for his performance on the field, but for his attitude on and off the field.
Law Firm is a good kid.
Belichick also has been generous in praising his scouting staff for finding Firm in the first place. Firm was a steal, who managed to fly under the radar.
With Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris out for now, the depth chart looks quite different.
When Sammy Morris went out with a knee injury last weekend, Firm stepped right in and picked up 67 yards on seven carries.
Laurence Maroney had a great game against Tennessee last Sunday, but we are by now familiar with his inconsistency. We hope those days are behind him, of course.
Kevin Faulk is a valuable role player, but he can pick up only so much slack.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, BJGE, Benny, Law Firm: Call him by whatever name, just give him the ball. I see wonderful things in his future.
And as for Latonia, who missed just one of his college games and none of his professional games, I hope she is having a fine time in London.
Yes, I'm a Firm Fan.