Sometimes you are the sum total of your parts. While I’m not one of those ready to make the jump from RJ Soward, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones directly to Justin Blackmon, his recent history is painting a picture of inconsistency that is, frankly, inconsistent with what the Jaguars found out when they vetted their first round pick and behavior that is at best, not consistent with success and at worst, self-destructive.
Blackmon’s recent arrest for “aggravated DUI” is alarming not just because of his willingness to drink and drive but the level at which he was allegedly intoxicated. If your blood alcohol level is above .15, the “aggravated” level of DUI is implemented, usually a felony. Blackmon reportedly measured at .24, three times the legal limit. At over six feet and 200 lbs, to get to .24, Blackmon had to be drinking for quite a while. And while his judgment might have been impaired by his drinking, the judgment of his friends has to also be in question based on them allowing him to get behind the wheel.
Does he have a drinking problem? That’s such a subjective definition but the fact that he’s a two-time offender should give him, his family, the Jaguars and his teammates at least a reason to ask that question. While he was in Jacksonville for the OTA’s, there were numerous sightings at local beach bars, but no incidents were reported. It is interesting that Head Coach Mike Mularkey said last week that when Blackmon, “knows the play, he’s very good. When he doesn’t he’s lost.” I thought that was a bit curious that the lauded first round pick could have as much practice time as he has but still not be fully aware of the playbook. Is that a sign that he was carousing a bit much while here instead of putting his nose in the book? When asked about his previous DUI at his introductory press conference here Blackmon called it an “isolated incident. I’ve grown from it. I’m a stronger person.” That’s the answer he gave the Jaguars during their investigation of his character before they drafted him. And they believed it. Why shouldn’t they? Everybody they talked to from Blackmon’s friends, family and coaches all said he was a great person. Interested in charity. Hard worker. Great teammate. And all of that could be true but now Blackmon’s credibility can be called into question.
Jail time is unlikely for his current charge, scheduled for a court appearance on July 24th, three days before Jaguars training camp is scheduled to start. Whether the Jaguars or the league can or will take any disciplinary action is unclear although he could be forced into the NFL’s substance abuse program as a first-time offender. (A second offense means a 4-game suspension).
If you’re wondering, “How could he do this at such a critical time?” drug and alcohol experts say this is exactly the time those with abuse problems act out and “fall again into the abyss.” Several times the night before the Super Bowl, important players in the NFL have succumbed to either the pressure or the temptation at one of the most important junctures of their lives.
From the top down, the Jaguars organization at this point won’t put up with bad behavior. Shad Khan wants a team he can be proud of. Gene Smith and Mike Mularkey are very involved in what kind of person each of their players are before putting them in black and teal. So they’ll deal with it and Blackmon will have a chance not only to get his life straight but probably be a star in the NFL.
If he wants to be.
RJ Soward was much more interested in his lifestyle than playing in the NFL. The team used to send a limo to his house to bring him to practice. And he still couldn’t make it. Reggie Williams thought he was a gangsta instead of a football player while Matt Jones didn’t realize that hard work makes you better and allows you to flourish as a player and a person.
Blackmon doesn’t strike me as having any of those personality traits but at this point, it’s all a question mark.