The Jacksonville Jaguars don't plan to release wide receiver Justin Blackmon following his four game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, nor should they. Blackmon however is at a career crossroad and where he goes from here is going to define his future in the NFL.
It was almost exactly a year ago that I asked the question if Justin Blackmon had a bigger issue, or if this was just a young kid being a young kid. It appears, looking back, he does seem to have a bigger issue and now it falls on him to decide where his NFL career is going to go.
The struggles of Blackmon are not unfamiliar to Jaguars fans, as we've seen the list of R. J. Soward, Jimmy Smith, Matt Jones, and Reggie Williams all torpedo themselves off the football field. Some more than others also did so on the football field, but the bigger issue is they've had issues staying on the field because of what they did off of it.
Justin Blackmon picked up a DUI roughly a month after the 2012 NFL Draft, blowing a .24 on his breathalyzer test and appearing visibly intoxicated when the police footage was later released. That was just 20 months after he received a DUI while he was playing at Oklahoma State, which was later dropped to an underage open container charge, but it presents a pattern of making the wrong decisions.
Now, just 10 months from his past transgression, Blackmon has been suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Blackmon just turned 23 years old and is entering the second season of his NFL career and the former first-round pick is already staring a year long suspension in the face is he messes up again.
We don't know if Blackmon was in the substance abuse program already because of his two DUI's or if it's because he's failed a drug tests previously, as you get a suspension on your second offense, but he's putting himself on a pattern of career suicide. In a 10 month span in the NFL, he's already done enough to be suspended for a quarter of the season.
"I have chosen to be accountable for my poor decision, and I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the front office and Jaguars fans for the impact of my mistake on the team," Blackmon said in a statement.
Words are wind. We heard the same words a year ago about how he was sorry and embarrassed and didn't have a problem.
It appears he has a problem.
The only person who can correct that problem is Justin Blackmon.
Blackmon is the only person who can put his career on track and he has to make that decision now. You're young and you made some mistakes, we get that. That's fine. It's impacting your career now, however. That's not fine. It's not fine for the organization who invested in you. It's not fine for the fans who gave you another chance. Most importantly, it's not fine for Justin Blackmon.
This is the moment in Blackmon's short NFL career where he's going to sink or swim, and hopefully that registers with him.
Hopefully, he swims.