During his three seasons at Oklahoma State, receiver Justin Blackmon appeared unstoppable most of the time, scoring 38 touchdowns and hauling in 232 passes during his final two college seasons.
The Jacksonville Jaguars rookie, who was selected fifty overallin April’s draft, looked anything but invincible this weekend — cut down to size by a stupid decision.
Early Sunday, police in Stillwater, Okla. pulled Blackmon, 22, over at a traffic stop after he was driving 60-mph in a 35-mph zone and refused to yield to officers for four blocks. He blew .24 on a breathalyzer, was arrested and later released on a $1,000 bail.
Blackmon’s alleged response to the officers was, “I just flew in. I don’t know why you’re harassing me.”
It was the second time in the last two years that Blackmon was arrested for DUI — the first coming in 2010 when Blackmon was 20 years old.
For an athlete to reach the professional level and compete the way that someone like Blackmon does on the field, they usually have an incredible amount of self-confidence, some sort of unwavering super-human swagger and a you-can’t-stop-me attitude. That sort of aura of invincibility they have is great on the field, but doesn’t translate so well to other life situations, like when you decide you’re “cool to drive” with a BAC that is three-times the legal limit, especially after getting arrested two years earlier.
Just two weeks earlier, former Jaguars lineman Richard Collier addressed the team about making smart decisions off the field. In 2008, Collier was shot six times while waiting outside of a Jacksonville apartment building. He was paralyzed from the waist down and had to have one of his legs amputated. The prosecution in the case said the shooting was a result of Collier knocking the shooter out in a bar fight previously.
If that tale didn’t reach Blackmon, hopefully the consequences of his latest actions will.
Blackmon has yet to reach terms on his rookie contract with the Jaguars and cost himself several million dollars in guaranteed money. Last year’s fifth overall pick, Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals, signed a four-year deal worth $18.4 million with $11.9 million guaranteed. Blackmon has given himself no leverage to approach that number now.
On Monday, Blackmon pleaded not guilty in court and was back with the team on Tuesday.
In the hallways of the Jaguars’ facilities, Blackmon bumped into former Jaguars running back and potential Hall of Famer Fred Taylor. According to NFL.com, Taylor said that Blackmon seemed “humbled” and he advised Blackmon that this doesn’t have to be “the defining moment” of his career.
It doesn’t have to be. That is a decision that Blackmon has to make.
I don’t know Justin Blackmon. I have no idea if he’s a genius or dumb as a doorknob, but for columnists like the Florida Times-Union’s Gene Frenette to infer that he is an “alcoholic” is stupid. Blackmon is a 22-year-old kid who made some really dumb decisions.
Blackmon is lucky that he is the only person paying the price for his actions and that no one else was physically harmed by his decisions.
Like Taylor said, this doesn’t have to be the defining moment of Blackmon’s career.
Hopefully he has learned from this incident and others will learn from the poor example that he has set. In 2010 when he ran into trouble, he was only suspended one game. Apparently that wasn’t harsh enough. Maybe the financial consequences of his decision will motivate him to be smarter in the future and others can learn from his poor choices.