We're not doing all Justin Blackmon all the time, certainly not after today.
The rookie wide receiver made a mistake. Being arrested for aggravated DUI, as Blackmon was in Oklahoma Sunday, is a serious mistake. That much we know.
We don't know if he will spend time in jail. We know that he will be considered a first-time offender and that though jail time is an option, first-time offenders usually get probation in Oklahoma.
We don't know if he will be suspended by the NFL. We know that a first DUI typically results in being evaluated in the NFL's substance-abuse program, and a fine. The specifics of that – they're also hard to know. The substance-abuse program is confidential, and the goings on are typically not known unless there is a suspension.
We don't know what effect this will have on Blackmon's contract. The No. 5 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, Blackmon has yet to sign his rookie deal. Under the league's new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the first 16 selections in the draft have guarantees in their contracts, but teams can negotiate language that would minimize the guarantees.
It stands to reason the Jaguars will try to do that.
The most important thing we don't know is if Blackmon has a problem, and if so, how serious it is. We can assume. We can speculate. We can analyze. We can criticize. Many will, and with this incident, Blackmon brought that on himself, but in this space, we're not going to play expert on things of a personal nature that can't be known, so we're not going to label or assume.
We know this is the second DUI incident in less than two years, and we know that that means Blackmon is at a critical time. He has some important lifestyle choices to make, and that's what's most important now – not as much what happened, but how he responds to it.
You're defined in this life not as much by what happens to you, but how you react to it, and how Blackmon is defined in the NFL will be determined by what he does next.
Let's get to it . . .
Chuck from TN:
Can a rookie such as Blackmon be suspended for his actions even though he's not under contract?
John: Yes. Once you're drafted, you're in the NFL even if you don't have a contract – although in Blackmon's case, this likely will be treated as a first offense, which could mean he won't be suspended.
Aaron from Phoenix, AZ:
Instead of bashing Justin Blackmon, we should see how he responds (I think he will be professional) and stand behind him. I'm not justifying his DUI, but how about some kind of positive reinforcement for a kid right out of college?
John: Positive reinforcement isn't the way of our society – certainly not from the general public. We're a quick-trigger reaction society that criticizes public figures for flaws many people share. We're also a society that loves to give second chances, though, and if Blackmon turns things around, he will be lauded for that in time. As for positive reinforcement, the Jaguars will give him that when appropriate, and he'll certainly get every opportunity to right his career, and to establish himself. This is far from the end for Blackmon in Jacksonville, and he will get support. He must do something with that support.
Strnbiker from Dothan, AL:
Sometimes do the Jags remind you of the weather in Jacksonville? When I lived there I would get my fishing gear all lined up, get up early on a Saturday morning, beautiful day and head out to Hecksher Drive across from the cruise ship port. Would catch a couple Flounder and maybe a Red and bam, out of nowhere this thunderstorm would pass over. Have to hunker down in my van till it passed. Deal with it and keep going forward trusting for the best.
John: I have no idea what this email means, but I do feel like going fishing Saturday.
Lee from Jacksonville:
While I feel sorry for your inbox, isn't the general reaction to Blackmon's arrest an affirmation of Gene Smith's commitment to drafting and signing players of character?
John: No question. Talent is a great thing, but in the NFL, talent without the willingness to work and the ability to focus and get the most out of that talent usually adds up to a disappointing career. Now is the time that Blackmon has to decide if he's willing to do what it takes to have a long, productive career. We'll see.
Jeremy from Navarre, FL:
Are there are good WRs who we can draft in 2013? I hate to be pessimistic, but people like Blackmon (repeated offenders with disregard for common sense and rules) often continue in their bad habits. I really hope he puts this being him, but then again, during his initial conference call after the draft he said he had put the 2012 DUI behind him and learned from it – apparently not. It's a disappointing time for Jag nation.
John: Yes, it's disappointing. Yes, he made a mistake. Yes, this is something for which he deserves criticism. Do people often continue bad habits? Yes. Do people often change bad habits when faced with a life-altering situation? Yes. My gut on Blackmon is based on a few dealings with him and meeting his family briefly. My sense is he comes from a good background and that there's a good chance that he's a young kid who has made mistakes and appears to need to change. I think people can do that with the right motivation and support. There's no reason for me to believe he won't do that. It's all yet to play out, but I don't think we need to start mocking wide receivers to the Jaguars next April just yet.
Dave from Barton, PA:
First Knighton, then Khan/city fight, now Blackmon's DUI. Jacksonville has gone from the "clean cut" image of the past few years, to a laughing stock with the NFL audience. Now I know that any answer will contain "just win, and the media/nation will respect you," but the Jaguars really have their work cut out for them, and if this season is a disappointment, then this team is going to really, really struggle with ticket sales. I love this team more than a lot of people, but the immature and unprofessionalism of some of the members of this team right now are really hurting the squad as a whole.
John: Deep breaths, Dave. Deep breaths. There are a lot of good things going on with this team. It's going to be better next season, and the incidents of which you speak don't change that.
Jake from Athens, GA:
Johnny O rocked the ponytail??? Please make that your default picture.
John: Not likely, and I don't know that I would term what I did as "rocking" anything. My hair was long enough to wrap something around it in the back to keep it all one length. The results were pretty much as unpleasant as you might expect.
Paul from Panama City, FL:
If Blaine improves to let's say, 3,600 yards, 29 TDs and 14 interceptions – not drastic numbers, but good enough to earn a wildcard – who would get the credit? Would it be his decision making, Mularkey's system, or Greg Olson coaching?
John: First, 29 touchdowns would be a drastic improvement, and it would be more than a good season. It would be a phenomenal one. There would be many reasons for it, three of which you mentioned, but why worry about who gets credit? It would be a great thing for the Jaguars, a team effort, and sometimes it's OK to see it that way.
Jeff from Westminster:
Obviously Gene Smith would not have moved up in the first round to draft Blackmon if he had known what he was getting. My question is this--should he have anticipated this? Blackmon was clearly the guy they were targeting in the first round so I imagine they spent considerable time investigating his character by interviewing his college coaches and others. Should they have hired a private investigator to find out if he was still drinking and driving? Would that have been going too far? I would guess that in hindsight, they wished they had gone that far. I fear Blackmon will be another RJ Soward.
John: For some reason, I don't fear that Blackmon is headed down that path. I could be wrong, but that's my feeling. As for Smith and the Jaguars anticipating it, the NFL investigates players as thoroughly as possible, with extensive security and background checks at the team and league level. These are human beings and they're young human beings, and as such, investigating them is an imperfect process. This isn't one to blame the team on – or the general manager. You scout players, investigate them, then take a calculated risk on every player. I'd say Smith's history is a good indication that he stands on character. There's no such thing as perfection in the draft, and there's no such thing as a sure thing, either.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
Self-deprecation is only funny on occasion and only when combined with a specific topic of discussion. Self-deprecation just for the sake of it (see Marion from Section 437) is boring and does not inspire readership. You have readers because you relate valued information and insight regarding the Jaguars organization, not because you are clever or funny.
John: Being clever and funny may not be why I have readers, but it sure makes it great to be me.