Jacksonville Jaguars’ Justin Blackmon is out for the remainder of the 2013 season after yet another violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The suspension is effective immediately and Blackmon will be eligible to reapply to the league before the start of next season. Blackmon will not be paid his salary while serving the term of his suspension.
Despite Blackmon’s repeated issues with substance abuse, the Jags are not washing their hands of him. “It’s not in our in our nature to just turn our back on one of our members that needs our help,” general manager David Caldwell stated. Caldwell went on to say that Blackmon needs support and that his troubles were never rooted in his ability to play. “It’s been about (Blackmon) the person.”
The Jags are stuck in an 0-8 mess of a season that has not seen enough good news. Blackmon’s contributions to the team at wide receiver are significant.
In his rookie season last year he had 64 receptions for 865 yards, averaging 13.5 yards per catch. He had five touchdowns and only one fumble. This year, despite suspensions, he has 29 receptions for 415 yards, averaging over 14 yards per catch and one touchdown. Only Julio Jones and Detroit’s monster Calvin Johnson have more receiving yards than Blackmon. His undeniable talent is probably what will keep a spot open for him on the Jags’ roster.
The big question is, even with treatment and time away from the glitz and glamour of his sudden celebrity, will Blackmon recover? And if so, can he be trusted to remain clean and committed to the league and the Jaguars?
So often these young men come from so little and gain so much that they do not know where to stop. Fame and fortune lead to excesses that crate the scenario Blackmon now finds himself starring in.
Once his suspension became public, Blackmon released a statement through his agent apologizing once again for his issues and for “not utilizing the resources that I was provided to overcome my challenges.”
Blackmon plead guilty to DUI charges and the penalties include submitting to three urine tests a month for six months and an ignition lock device on his car for two years. That he has been suspended indefinitely indicates Blackmon has reached the third level of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Blackmon’s history of substance abuse goes back before his joined the NFL. In 2010 he was arrested on misdemeanor DUI charges for speeding in Dallas. Although the charge was reduced to underage alcohol possession, it was a sign of things to come.
After he was picked fifth overall by Jacksonville in the 2012 draft, Blackmon committed his first violation of the NFL policy when he tested three times over the legal limit in Stillwater, OK. A second violation triggered his first four-game suspension of the season.
Despite his return, the Jaguars continue to have problems winning games. The Jags have only eight touchdowns on the year and a -7 turnover ratio. Any help they can get will be welcome, but Blackmon has to get help for himself before he can consider being part of Jacksonville’s roster. Any team that takes a chance on Blackmon will have to accept his past and trust him to maintain himself for the future.
By Brandi Tasby