Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon has the gift and the curse. We all know what that is. There’s a laundry list of superstars, in all genres of life, who are victims of negative and addictive behavior. Behavior that’s as powerful and gripping as the desire that drives their majestic talents.
Drugs and alcohol abuse are often the most destructive addictions for an athlete and entertainer. Blackmon, a 6-1, 200-pound monster-talent out of Oklahoma State, is one of these conflicted savants.
The NFL suspended Blackmon on Tuesday for the first four games of the 2013 season for his second substance violation in less than a year. He loses four-weeks of checks, and the Jaguars could cut him without having to pay about $10 million that remains on a four-year, $18.5 million contract. Blackmon will miss games against Kansas City, Oakland, Seattle and Indianapolis, but is eligible to return to practice on Sept. 30.
The crazy kid is now a member of the league’s substance abuse cipher. He’ll be fighting that tag for years to come. The Jaguars are obviously disappointed. They had high hopes for a cat that teased us with his vast skill-set, grabbing 64 passes for 865 yards and five scores with Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert chucking up ducks.
“I’ve made a mistake and I have no excuses,” Blackmon said in a statement.
The young man messed up, but the Jaguars don’t escape punishment here.
Their decision to draft Blackmon with the fifth-overall pick in ‘12, with knowledge of his previous DUI in Texas in 2010, was a questionable move for a struggling franchise. The confirmation that it wasn’t the right pick came soon after.
Blackmon hadn’t even gotten his pads dirty in an NFL scrimmage before he caught another DUI in June ‘12.
This sad situation offers insight as to why Jacksonville has been a janky franchise since Tom Coughlin took them to a couple of AFC Title games in the late ‘90s. The front office could have avoided the fiasco by not being so damn liberal, and red-flagging anything with a moving violation (like most conservatively-run, winning-franchises do).
Blackmon is going to be fighting personal demons for a long time and it’s going to be a journey that requires patience, dedication and tough love.
With the knowledge and available research on athletes’ historical struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, the Jaguar’s front office— a shaky 25-39 the four seasons prior to Blackmon’s arrival—should have known it wasn’t in the position to invest in a “high-risk” wide receiver. Blackmon had a decent year, but Jacksonville’s 2-14 record was the worst in its 18-season history and further cemented the point home.
One more failed test and Blackmon misses an entire year. His behavioral pattern suggests he’s due for another one. It’s kind of foul how these types of things most frequently happen to a team with the least margin of era—like the Jags.