Blackmon needs to heed his own words

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
8:59
AM ET
Justin Blackmon did something dangerous and stupid. He put himself, and others who were on the road, at risk, when he registered a .24 blood alcohol level and got arrested for aggravated DUI.

He’s got a lot of apologizing to do, and the only real way to make up for what he did is to become a straight arrow and not do anything foolish for a long stretch. He needs to bury himself in football and be productive.

[+] EnlargeJustin Blackmon
AP Photo/Payne County Sheriff's OfficeJaguars first-round pick Justin Blackmon registered a .24 blood alcohol level and was arrested Sunday for aggravated DUI.
Also, once he deals with the consequences of his arrest, he needs to do what he can to develop a cushion between himself and what I feel has to be called an overreaction.

Yes, a guy with a driving under the influence already on his history getting another on his record is a big concern.

In a column in this morning’s edition of the Florida Times-Union, Gene Frenette says Blackmon’s arrest “goes beyond putting a serious blemish on his NFL career before it could get started. He also embarrassed the Jaguars’ organization with an incredibly stupid lapse in judgment.”

True.

But it’s a huge jump -- too big a jump in my eyes -- by Frenette, who goes from there to wondering if the team researched Blackmon’s first alcohol-related arrest sufficiently, if owner Shad Khan might have pushed the receiver on a team that’s concerned with squeaky-clean character, and then declares Blackmon must have a drinking problem to do this a second time.

Writes Frenette of the arrest:
It raises all kinds of issues, from whether the Jaguars messed up in their evaluation, to Blackmon’s ability to handle the pressure of an NFL stage, to what kind of discount the team might ask for in ongoing contract negotiations with Blackmon’s agent, Todd France. That sticks to No. 14 [Blackmon] for the immediate future, possibly for a lot longer.

There’s never a good time for a public relations disaster, but this was especially bad as the Jaguars struggle to fill those EverBank Field seats. The team is in the middle of a player caravan to outlying cities in South Georgia and Northeast Florida to drum up season-ticket sales. Blackmon was scheduled to appear Friday in Waycross, Ga., but that appearance could be in jeopardy.

Not that NFL players can’t overcome off-the-field troubles. However, anyone appearing on a police blotter a second time for such a serious offense rarely becomes a Pro Bowl-type player. Blackmon, who comes from a solid, two-parent family and drew rave reviews in college for befriending 11-year-old leukemia victim Olivia Hamilton, will really be under the microscope now.

The fifth pick in the draft is under the microscope automatically.

First-round receivers are a hit or miss prospect. While Blackmon was the best in his class according to virtually everyone, many evaluators said he’s not as good as Julio Jones or A.J. Green, the top two receivers from 2011.

Does the No. 5 pick in the draft have even more to prove now?

He does. He’s got a lot of time to show he can get it together off the field and be an impact player, too.

The verdict on the charge will come in soon.

The verdict on what kind of professional Blackmon will be will come in a lot later.

I only talked with Blackmon for about 10 minutes when I was recently in Jacksonville. My first impression was good, but it was just a first impression. I know he’d already said the right things about the DUI he got while at Oklahoma State, and then he went and did this.

Blackmon and I talked a bit about the NFL’s annual rookie symposium, which will be held June 28-29 in Bradenton, Fla. Somehow we ended up on the issue of managing money, but I sensed one thing he said about the two days could extend beyond that issue.

“What you hear there, either people are going to accept it and take it in and think about it and try to apply it into their life, or they just going to shrug it off and do what they want to do,” he said. “I’m definitely going to be in that first group.”

It’s time for him to start showing us instead of telling.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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