Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley made clear that his trust in suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon should not be mistaken as naivety. When talking with the Florida Times-Union, Bradley said that he trusts Blackmon and has had numerous conversations with him since the league announced the four game suspension. Blackmon’s recovery from his stuggles (DUIs in 2010, 2012, and now a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy) is going to be a process, but he has his team’s support and that is important.
Supporting Blackmon may be difficult for the Jaguars, especially since it appears Blackmon has a real problem, but it’s what they are going to do. There have been rumors that the Jaguars should cut Blackmon, but his talent when on the field is tough to move past. Further, Blackmon sounds genuinely remorseful which is big. Actions speak louder than words, but right now words will have to do.
Personally, I worry that a third violation will come and the Jaguars will lose Blackmon to a full year suspension. While I have confidence in Blackmon turning it around (even more so with the support of the Jaguars), there will always be that thought in the back of our heads that it could happen again.
The Jaguars’ trust, though, can do wonders. The best example, in my mind, of a player turning it around is wide receiver Cris Carter. Carter struggled with drug and alcohol abuse as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, ultimately causing dissension between him and coach Buddy Ryan, resulting in him being cut. Picked up by the Minnesota Vikings he received strong support from the team and managed to turn things around.
Ultimately, it all comes down to Blackmon, but support from one’s team can do wonders. As Times-Union writer Ryan O’Halloran said, “What has gone unspoken among the Jaguars is that Blackmon is one false test from being suspended for an entire year.” Hopefully, with the team’s support, Blackmon won’t have to see another suspension.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims