Justin Blackmon's DUI Means He Owes a Debt to Society

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistJune 4, 2012

Courtesy of the Payne County Sheriff's Office (via Jacksonville.com)
Courtesy of the Payne County Sheriff's Office (via Jacksonville.com)

Justin Blackmon had no idea what he was doing when he got behind the wheel early Sunday morning.

I seriously doubt anyone who can blow a 0.24 (h/t Vito Stellino

of The Florida Times-Union) on a breathalyzer is particularly aware of anything at the time he or she climbs into a car.

Blackmon wasn't trying to turn himself into a human missile. He didn't mean to put innocent lives at risk. He wasn't trying to embarrass himself, his family, his team or the fanbase that cheered when he was selected.

He wasn't trying.

And that's precisely the problem.

Drunk driving is attempted murder without the intent. There was no hate in the heart of Blackmon on Sunday. He wasn't filled with rage or violence.

He was just filled with booze.

I don't want to accuse the young man of some serious malice toward humanity. His failure doesn't make any of us who haven't been arrested for DUI any more righteous or good.

What his arrest does is reveal that Blackmon is not ready for the burden of expectations that is upon him. While he wasn't trying to kill anyone Sunday morning, he also did try to go out and party Saturday.

He did try to get drunk. He did so with no forethought at all. It's reasonably safe to say that getting wasted and driving is something Blackmon has probably done so many times that he didn't even stop to consider beforehand how he could avoid it.

Do I know he has a serial problem with driving under the influence? No.

Do I believe that the only two times in his life he tried it, he got caught? No.

Blackmon's actions indicate that he is not mature or prepared for life in the NFL. He had no plan when he went out Saturday night. He didn't leave his car at home. He didn't have a buddy to watch his back. He wasn't trying to protect himself, his team or his fans.

He wasn't trying.

The fallout over Blackmon's arrest will continue to unfold for days. He may well be facing serious jail time. Given that this is his second alcohol and driving arrest, he should spend time in prison. That won't begin to pay off the debt he owes to society, however.

Blackmon isn't a bad person; at least, he's not any worse than any one of us. But getting arrested for DUI isn't a "mistake." It's not a "lapse in judgement."

It's a crime.

It is not in fashion these days for any of us to "owe something" to those around us. We live in a society that celebrates the individual and trumpets personal rights. Blackmon worked hard for his success, fame and impending million-dollar contract. He put in the time. He did the work.

Even so, I believe he still owes the rest of us something. He has been given a gift both by his creator, in the form of talent, and by the fans of Jacksonville, who will shell out thousands of dollars apiece this year to pay his salary.

Before he ever got behind the wheel, he owed a debt to the society that makes his life possible. He owed it to us before he ever left his house on Saturday.

He owed it to us to try.

Now, because he wasn't trying, he owes an even deeper debt.

Jail time or not, he needs to start paying it.