With the news of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon being suspended for a full season, yes a new one, for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy it began another stream of questions about Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon, thanks in part to a tweet by Alex Marvez of FOX Sports.
On flip side of @browns Josh Gordon news, lots of #NFL folks optimistic @Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon overcoming issues & will be back in '15— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) January 25, 2015
I ignored it at first, because I am still "Justin Blackmon does not exist" until he actually gets reinstated by the league, but an article posted by Michael DiRocco of ESPN on what needs to happen for reinstatement I thought was worth posting about. I don't want to get caught up in every little news that leaks out about Blackmon, but this is actually something meaningful.
What needs to happen for Blackmon to return has always seemed kind of weird and hush hush, some illuminati NFL type crap. But, DiRocco spells out some of what needs to happen for Blackmon to return to the NFL and after reading it I'm still kind of unsure what exactly will happen, but Marvez isn't the first person who's said that it's optimistic for a Blackmon return.
According to the policy, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has to make a decision on Blackmon's situation within 60 days of his application for reinstatement, which to my knowledge has not even happened yet, so the clock hasn't started. The Stage 3 reinstatement policy is as follows, per DiRocco:
According to the substance-abuse policy, Goodell has the sole discretion to determine if and when a player will be allowed to return. Whether a player adheres to his treatment plan during his suspension is a significant consideration, and a player must meet certain requirements determined by the substance-abuse policy's medical director as well as other requirements.
This means that the decision on Blackmon coming back is on Goodell, and that's it. It's solely his choice, but there are baseline parameters that players have to meet, and for me that's where it seems a little sketchy for Blackmon.
The first requirement is that a player must apply for reinstatement no sooner than 60 days of the one-year anniversary of suspension, which for Blackmon is literally anytime since his indefinite suspension was handed down on Nov. 1, 2013. The next part is why I have some reservations on what will actually happen.
In the application for reinstatement, the player must provide "information about his treatment, abstinence from substance abuse throughout the entire suspension, involvement in any substance-abuse related incidences, and arrest and/or convictions for any criminal activity (including substance-abuse related offenses)."
The bolded part is the issue for Blackmon.
Blackmon was arrested for marijuana possession just six months ago, back on July 23, 2014. He reportedly entered a voluntary rehab facility back in the September/October range of the NFL season and completed the program. Blackmon ultimately pleaded no contest to the arrest and it was knocked down to a misdemeanor, but still just six months ago he was clearly still using the substance that got him indefinitely suspended.
Once Blackmon's application has been submitted, he will also need to willfully release medical records to Commissioner Goodell, including any counseling programs, rehab programs or any medical findings while under suspension which I am sure will include any testing done during his arrest. Now, even if Blackmon was tested and not charged for being under the influence for his past arrest, it's possible his THC levels (*if* he was using) still would push NFL levels, I'm not quite sure how that would work. Technically I guess it would be another failed test, but this is just pure guess work by me right now and I'm not sure how that all works out.
Regardless, those records will be given to the NFL and NFLPA, which will go into the decision making process. Blackmon will also have to meet face-to-face with Commissioner Goodell and agree to comply to any other conditions the player will have to follow upon reinstatement, be it drug tests or further suspension from the NFL.
The latter of which I still think is what's going to happen if Blackmon is reinstated, given precedent of past players who've had to apply for reinstatement. Then you have to get into talking about what a player who's been out of the NFL for essentially two years is going to bring to the table, especially when it was clear a lot of that time was not keeping himself in NFL shape, but that's another discussion for another day.