Jaguars: Off-Field Issues Will Hinder Justin Blackmon from Meeting Expectations

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystApril 30, 2013

For whatever reason, the wide-receiver position seems to have an inordinate percentage of headcases, whether it's players who are constantly griping on the field or getting into trouble off of it.

Now, the first wide receiver off the board in the 2012 draft's inability to avoid the latter has gotten him suspended for four games, potentially costing him millions of dollars, and has placed his entire NFL career on the precipice of an abyss.

Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Justin Blackmon, who was the fifth overall pick in last year's draft, has been suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to Mike Garafolo of USA Today.

The reason for suspension was kept confidential per terms of the collective bargaining agreement, and Blackmon released a statement apologizing for his misstep:

I've made a mistake and I have no excuse. I am truly sorry and disappointed in myself for putting the Jaguars in this situation, and I look forward to putting this behind me and maturing and growing as a person. I will have a productive training camp and pre-season with my team, and during the suspension I will work hard to stay in top football shape and be ready to help the Jaguars when I return. 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.

But just because Blackmon says he'll be "accountable for [his] poor decision" doesn't necessarily mean he'll learn from it. Again, though we don't know the specifics of this violation, he has had a run of poor decisions in the past.

Blackmon was arrested for DUI back in 2010 while at Oklahoma State. Last June, less than two months after being drafted by the Jaguars, he was arrested again for the same offense.

He pleaded guilty a month later to avoid the possibility of jail time, and as the Associated Press reported at the time via ESPN, Blackmon had a statement ready then, too.

I'm done. Right now, I'm done with all that. ... I can't promise you 10 years down the road that I'm going to be done. I just know that as of right now and what I can speak of. I'm looking forward to getting ready to play football and putting this in the past.

So much for putting it in the past, because here we are in the present, right back in the same spot, with Blackmon paying lip service to the "impact of my mistake on the team."

It's obvious that Blackmon didn't learn anything from that incident, or I wouldn't be writing this article. However, as Ian Rapoport of relayed, there's a very big lesson from Blackmon's latest screw-up that might finally get his attention:

That's right. Justin Blackmon, the irresponsible player that he is, just frittered away nearly $11 million in guaranteed money.

That isn't to say he won't still make that money. However, this is it. The proverbial last chance. If Blackmon runs afoul of the NFL again, he will not only be suspended for a year, but would also almost certainly be released by a Jaguars team that can now cut bait without paying him a nickel.

Way to go, slick.

It's too bad, really. Blackmon's an immensely talented receiver, a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the top wide receiver in college football. He got off to a slow start as a rookie, but after a week 11 coming-out party in which he torched the Houston Texans for 236 yards, Blackmon closed the season strong.

We should be sitting here discussing how Blackmon is poised to take the "next step" and join the ranks of the elite players at his position; not how the Jaguars are going to make do without him for the first month of the season.

And yet, here we are. Not only that, but there's absolutely zero reason to think we won't be back here again, because Blackmon has demonstrated absolutely zero interest in getting out of his own way.

Oh well, at least the Jaguars have Cecil Shorts. He makes a fraction of the money that Blackmon does, had better numbers last year and most importantly...

Cecil Shorts is not irresponsible.