Although completely meaningless, it felt sincere when Jacksonville Jaguars second-year wide receiver Ace Sanders spoke to the media on a conference call Tuesday afternoon to announce that he was taking personal time to miss training camp, and that he could be facing a four-game suspension from the NFL
Sanders spoke emphatically, and he he admitted that he had a problem and was going to rectify it.
"It's been a tough road for me the past couple of months. I've been dealing with a lot of stuff (sic) with life and with family and with a lot of issues going on," Sanders told reporters on a conference call. "I will probably have a four-game suspension as well, so I really would rather have people hear that (sic) from me first before hearing it from anybody else just, so that I can get everything out there in the open and to let people know that I am taking full responsibility for all of my actions, everything that I did. I really want to let the fan base know and let my family know and Mr. Shahid Khan, Dave Caldwell, Coach Gus and all of my teammates know that I am truly sorry for what has happened. But, sometimes life hits, and it's hard. I've made some mistakes that I do regret, that I do honestly regret.(sic)"
Sanders immediately apologizes, admits that he has an issue, and that he regrets the decisions that he made which lead up to whatever might have happened.
"I could have handled situations a little differently. I'm still just dealing with it. I'm trying to be a better person and a better teammate for everybody and everybody around me," Sanders continued. "I decided to go seek that help; get that attention that I need; hopefully, somebody can help me out, and I should be okay. I should be fine. I just want to get better and come back and be ready to play."
Speeches and apologies like these aren't foreign to Jaguars fans.
We've heard all the same from Matt Jones, Reggie Williams and Justin Blackmon. However, with Sanders, he was one of the few that I can recall who actually simply admitted that they had a problem and would be seeking help for said problem.
"It's just like counseling, just like you said. Just from anybody that can help me on some personal issues that I have," Sanders said when asked if he'd seek counseling for his problem. "Give me some type of ground that I can at least start from and just try to figure out everything that is going on."
If you recall Justin Blackmon's
"Out of this whole thing, one of the main things I would say that I had a problem with was just making a poor decision, making a selfish decision at that and not thinking about the long term of it and just thinking about at the time," Blackmon said in May of 2013, after the Jaguars' first OTA
The last line by Blackmon, claiming he simply had an issue with poor decisions, is cover for not taking ownership of his problems. I can say this with hindsight, because we know what unfolded a few months later and then again a few months after that. Rather than admitting he had an actual problem, Blackmon said it was a poor decision. Nothing more.
It could simply be because Blackmon is more reserved in how he spoke and a bit stand-offish in media sessions, but it never seemed sincere. Even after his rookie press conference following a DUI arrest where he said that he didn't have an issue with alcohol, it all seemed unnecessarily hyper-defensive.
"I do not," Blackmon said in 2012 when asked if he had a drinking problem following his DUI arrest. "I just think I made a poor choice. I put myself in a bad situation. It's completely my fault. I've just got to make better judgment on that."
While what Blackmon says isn't all that different from what Sanders said during his press conference, how things were said is drastic. Blackmon was dismissive and acted almost insulted by the questions while Sanders seemed sincere and apologetic during his responses.
"This has been a situation that has kind of has been brought into light for me for a while, so I had some time to cope with it and deal with it myself," Sanders said when asked if he'll be ready to return after the suspension has concluded.
"‘You messed up. Where do you go from here?' I've had a little more time than everybody else to deal with it, so I'm really just looking for answers when I go here, so that I can just be a better person myself. I'll definitely be ready to play when I get back."
It remains to be seen if Sanders, unlike Blackmon, will own up and learn from his mistakes.
As silly as it sounds, I'm more confident that Sanders will return to the Jaguars without another issue than I am that Blackmon will ever suit up for the Jaguars again. Ultimately we have no idea, but the handling of the similar situations is quite drastic.