Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 15, 2013

Blackmon blames problems on poor decisions

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Justin Blackmon pinned his problems on his decisions.

Blackmon, suspended the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, acknowledged that he’s at a crossroads in his career and his personal life. But the Jacksonville Jaguars receiver insisted he doesn’t have an alcohol or substance-abuse problem.

“Out of this whole thing one of the main things I would say that I had a problem with was just making a poor decision, making a selfish decision at that and not thinking about the long term of it and just thinking about at the time,” Blackmon said following the team’s first organized team activity. “If you want to ask if I have a problem? I have a problem with making a poor decision.”

Blackmon has a credibility problem, too.

It was just 11 months ago that that Blackmon apologized for getting arrested on a DUI charge in Stillwater — tests showed his blood-alcohol content to be three times the legal limit — and vowed that this is “not who I’m going to be.”

Blackmon eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI, which put him in the league’s substance-abuse program. Although he declined Monday to reveal what triggered his suspension, it’s likely he failed a random test.

The former Oklahoma State star and fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft also was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge in Texas in 2010 after officers caught him speeding on a suburban Dallas highway. The charge was later reduced to an underage alcohol possession charge.

Although it sure seems like this is a pattern of behavior, Blackmon said he’s “confident” his latest mistake will be his last.

“I don’t think anybody wants to be in the position that I’m in right now, and I don’t think anybody wants to be in a position that can be any worse,” Blackmon said. “I’m not going to go into it and say I want to be in this position because that’s not where I want to be. All I can do is come out here and work every day and get better each day. Coach Gus (Bradley) says every day, `Today is the most important day,’ and that’s all I can do is come out here every day and try to improve and take care of everything else as it comes.”

Blackmon declined comment when asked whether he plans to enroll in a rehabilitation program.

Blackmon, who caught 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, will miss games against Kansas City, Oakland, Seattle and Indianapolis to open the season. He will be eligible to return to practice Monday, Sept. 30. He will be allowed to attend meetings and be inside the facility during the suspension, but can’t practice or play.

Blackmon apologized to teammates shortly after the suspension was announced April 30.

“He came across well,” veteran center Brad Meester said. “He just apologized for what he did. He knew he was wrong and said it wouldn’t happen again. We all accepted that. ... We can’t control what people do what they leave here. We can’t change what happened in the past. We have to be there for him and help him through this and make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Running Maurice Jones-Drew, though, said reaction to Blackmon’s suspension has been “out of control.”

“The media just blows it out of proportion,” Jones-Drew said. “A lot of people make several mistakes. If you’re that age and you have that amount of money, how would you act? If you answer that question truthfully, you can go from there.”

Plenty of first-round draft picks, however, go their entire careers without landing in the substance-abuse policy or on the suspended list.

“You have to do the right thing no matter where you are,” Meester said. “We’re blessed with this opportunity. You’d hate to lose that opportunity because of something dumb you did outside of here. You don’t want that to be the reason you can’t play this game.”

If Blackmon gets another suspension while in the program, it would be for a full season.

“We’re going to see what kind of character he has,” Jones-Drew said.

Blackmon’s four-game hiatus will cost him about$220,000. It also triggered language in his contract that voids future guarantees, meaning the Jaguars could cut him without having to pay about $10 million that remains on a four-year, $18.5 million contract.

Blackmon made it clear he wants to move on from the suspension, but the 23-year-old receiver stopped short of saying he plans to change his lifestyle.

“I’ve just got to make better decisions,” he said. “Like I said, my problem was I made a selfish decision and I apologize for that. I apologized to my teammates and I apologized to my family for it. That’s something that I did and I take full responsibility for it.”

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