Two years ago when then-20-year-old Justin Blackmon was arrested for DUI while driving 92 in a 60-mph zone, the star Oklahoma State wide receiver expressed his remorse and his willingness to grow from the experience.
“I made a mistake, and I take full responsibility for it,” Blackmon said at the time. “I am embarrassed to be in this position. I am truly sorry. To my family, to my friends and to Oklahoma State as a whole, I look forward to redeeming myself and proving to everybody that this isn’t who I am. I am humbled by the experience, and I will grow from it.”
Following Blackmon’s arrest Sunday morning for an aggravated DUI — this one with a registered blood-alcohol level of 0.24, three times the legal limit — his character and growth are once again being called into question.
The fifth overall selection by Jacksonville, Blackmon instantly gave the Jaguars a threat in their much-maligned passing offense, but his most recent alcohol-related arrest have suddenly made him a threat to the team off-the-field.
The October 2010 arrest was classified as a DUI because, although Blackmon said he had not been drinking, there was alcohol in the vehicle he was driving. Under Texas law, a driver younger than 21 can be arrested for having any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
But there’s no way to shrug off Sunday’s incident.
According to Stillwater police spokesman Capt. Randy Dickerson, police tried to pull Blackmon over when they caught him going 60 in a 35 mph zone and driving left of center just after 3 a.m. When Blackmon finally pulled over at a gas station four blocks later, he smelled of alcohol.
“He was unsteady on his feet, his speech was slurred and his eyes were glassy and blood shot,” Dickerson said in a statement. “He admitted to consuming alcohol prior to driving.”
The Jacksonville News reported that Blackmon’s arrest came 10 days after former Jaguar Richard Collier spoke before the team about the dangers of late-night activity. Collier was paralyzed and had part of his leg amputated after he was struck by multiple gunshots in 2008.
As Jacksonville News columnist Gene Frenette writes, this is hardly what the Jaguars were looking for from a player they traded up to select.
If Blackmon was willing to put at risk the biggest football Lotto ticket he might ever cash, and do it for an alcohol high, then it raises much bigger questions about his character than what was already there before the April draft. That means Jaguars general manager Gene Smith, who has a reputation for being one of the biggest character sticklers in the NFL, bears responsibility to address to what extent he knew of Blackmon’s off-the-field issues beyond that DUI arrest 20 months ago.
Blackmon;'s contract negotiations with the Jaguars are still ongoing, and it’s safe to assume Jacksonville will be looking for a sizeable discount after his arrest. But in the long run, the team is hoping the second time will be the last time for a player with plenty of potential but no further room for error.
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