Over the past two weeks the NFL has seen Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy reinstated to the league, after spending much of if not all of the 2014 season on the exempt list, essentially serving a suspension. Hardy was found guilty of domestic violence but then later the case was thrown out after an appeal and alleged settlement while Peterson was reinstated without much news of anything.
Peterson didn't have a suspension hanging over his head and Hardy is set to serve 10 games in 2015, pending appeal from the NFLPA.
The news of these two players have led many Jacksonville Jaguars fans to wonder about the status of suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon and if he'd be back this season, like many optimistically expected. This of course led to a lot of fans berating NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Twitter, attempting to compare Blackmon's transgressions to that of a "child beater" and a "wife beater".
Essentially, people complaining that "the man" is keeping Blackmon down.
In reality, the only person who seems to be keeping Blackmon down is Justin Blackmon. As far as we know, and the Jaguars know, Blackmon has yet to apply for reinstatement to the NFL. One would think if he had applied for reinstatement, it would be widely reported by everyone and his agent would make sure to get word out that he was attempting to come back to the NFL.
But as it stands, it's hard to get reinstated when you apparently haven't even applied for it.
"Our process hasn’t changed," Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said at the teams pre-draft luncheon on Friday afternoon. "Plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges and he’s going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we’re able to get some news, but if not, we weren’t planning on it, we’re just going to go."
For all intents and purposes, it appears as if the Jaguars have moved on from Blackmon and aren't expecting him back for the 2015 season. This means the likelihood Blackmon ever returns to the NFL is exceedingly slim and highly unlikely, considering the last time he played a snap in the NFL was in November of 2013.
Many fans are upset by this and lash out at Blackmon for wasting an opportunity and missing out on millions.
But, perhaps Justin Blackmon just doesn't love playing football. Perhaps Justin Blackmon doesn't want to come back to the NFL and that's why he hasn't applied for reinstatement yet. One would think that if he were going to apply, he would have done it long before the NFL Draft and around when he could return for offseason workouts and OTAs, to make the most of his comeback, right?
Instead we get intermittent reports from Twitter and Facebook. Fans spotting him at a local rec league flag football game, where he plays for a team sometimes. Or even selfies with Blackmon in Las Vegas at a casino or at a wedding, where he looks noticibly plump compared to what he looks like in the picture attached to this article. I feel comfortable as a fat guy pointing that out, and it's not to make fun, but more a point that maybe Blackmon is happy with where his life is at.
He made some money playing professional football, was pretty good at it and messed up multiple times. Maybe, through turning his life around (if it's turned around), he realized he just didn't love the game and wanted to live his life. Maybe football really wasn't his passion.
In my personal opinion, I think that's the case. If Blackmon was truly set on making it back to the NFL and being the player many thought he would be, we wouldn't be seeing pictures of him where he looks clearly overweight, comparatively. We'd have heard something from him or his agent publicly about trying to make a comeback in the NFL and return to the Jaguars, but instead we're left with nothing.
Many fans push this blame on the NFL and their suspension policies, but maybe that's how Justin Blackmon wants it to be.
Maybe he just doesn't want to play football anymore and live his life.
Maybe Justin Blackmon doesn't want to come back, and that's OK.