As news of Justin Blackmon’s Sunday arrest circulates, a question of whether Blackmon is a “high character” guy will start to rise.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have become known the league over as a very selective team in choosing the talent on the roster. It doesn’t matter if you’re the consensus top wide receiver in the draft, if you aren’t a high character guy then you aren’t going to be playing for the Black and Teal….unless you’re Justin Blackmon?
Blackmon was easily the best receiver in the 2012 draft coming out of college. He was the most productive, the most versatile, and the most hard working. Reports of his 2010 DUI incident in Texas didn’t matter because he had shown he could work hard and succeed at a high level when he put his mind to it. His suspension by Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy appeared to refocus the young wide receiver and put him on course to be even more successful in college.
But with another DUI – this time an aggravated DUI – on his record now, it is easily fair to wonder if Blackmon really is the kind of guy the Jaguars have always wanted, or have the Jaguars reverted back to the Shack Harris era?
Shack Harris was the general manager before Gene Smith took the job in 2009. He became infamous for his big busts (Derrick Harvey) and trying to find talent even when it wouldn’t mesh well with the rest of the team (Jerry Porter). He took bit risks and failed quite often. This was all well and good so long as he got players like Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis from time to time. But after the Jags started to become known as a team similar to the Bengals, it was time to make a change.
Enter Gene Smith. Smith has focused on bringing in top tier talent that has a strong motor, a demonstrated history of leadership, and intangibles that add up to a high character person – not just a talented player. This year, he interviewed the wives of potential free agent pick ups to see how the player is in a non football setting. Above all else, character is the primary concern of the Jaguars.
Yet here we have Blackmon arrested in Oklahoma with his second DUI charge since 2010. You’ve got to wonder what is going through Smith’s head. Did he know that this could happen again? Did Blackmon have us all duped? What will the effect be on the rest of the roster? How will this affect public relations?
These are all good questions.
For me, I don’t think that Blackmon’s arrest will be too much of a mar on the Jaguars high character persona. I think that, if handled correctly, the Jaguars will be able to maintain locker room support and their integrity. But how does one handle a DUI arrest correctly?
I think there has to be a suspension. Maybe the first two games of the season. Make Blackmon practice, make him interact with his teammates, but there is no reason he should be a starting wide receiver with a team that places so much emphasis on character during his first two opportunities. It’ll hurt the kid to not be in the spotlight during the first two possible games of his career, but it could hurt the Jaguars more to not take any action when the tight, self-regulated ship they are running is in jeopardy.
Maybe it’s blown a little out of proportion to say that the entire basis of the Jaguars roster is in jeopardy. Maybe not. Making sure that Blackmon understands that his actions, especially driving drunk, go beyond him is an important part of making him into a better player and a better man.
A suspension will hurt his pride, but his drunk driving could have hurt other people.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims
Tags: 2012 NFL Draft 2012 NFL Draft Selections Derrick Harvey Gene Smith Jacksonville Jaguars Jerry Porter Justin Blackmon Justin Blackmon Arrest Justin Blackmon DUI Marcedes Lewis Maurice Jones-drew Mike Gundy Mike Mularkey NFL Draft Oklahoma Oklahoma State Shack Harris Texas