Jaguars plan to bring back Blackmon, if/when he’s reinstated

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With receiver Justin Blackmon, the fifth overall pick in 2012, still serving a suspension arising from multiple violations of the substance-abuse policy, the Jaguars have not turned their back on him.  And they don’t plan to.

Ed Werder of ESPN reports, and PFT has confirmed, that the Jaguars intend to welcome Blackmon back if/when he’s reinstated by the league.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Jaguars have not ruled out a reinstatement for Blackmon at some point during the 2014 regular season.  But they don’t expect to have him available as of Week One.

Even though Blackmon wasn’t drafted on the watch of current G.M. Dave Caldwell or current coach Gus Bradley, they’re making the right decision, for several reasons.  First, the kid has shown that, when he’s available to play, he can perform at a very high level.  Second, as Blackmon tries to overcome his substance-abuse issues (which presumably arise from alcohol or marijuana or both) while exiled from the team, he needs to have a reason for hope.  Knowing that his employer is ready to bring him back could be the difference between Blackmon winning and losing the broader battle he’s fighting.

Regardless of whether Blackmon’s issues arise from alcohol or marijuana or some other substance that doesn’t enhance performance, his case provides another example of a heavy-handed NFL policy that elevates discipline over treatment, throwing guys out of the league for matters in their private lives that in most cases have no impact at all on their ability to perform their duties as players.

Whether it’s Blackmon or Josh Gordon or Daryl Washington or Onterrio Smith or Ricky Williams or anyone else who consistently chooses a recreational substance over football, important questions need to be asked.  First, if it’s not a PED, why does the league care what a guy drinks, smokes, or ingests on his own time?  Second, why isn’t the focus helping get and keep these guys clean?

We’ve yet to detect much public sympathy for players who, in many cases, already have developed their habits before showing up in the NFL.  Many college football programs have done little to help players overcome substance abuse, and for many players who have substance abuse issues in college, the problems started in high school.

Shouldn’t the NFL be willing to take a broad, common-sense, and compassionate view of players who developed these issues before ever showing up for work?  Doesn’t it make sense to find ways to help highly-talented players stay in the league?

This situation provides a prime example of the negative consequences of a monopoly.  If there were another viable pro football league, the NFL wouldn’t be in the business of running off guys like Blackmon, Gordon, and Washington.  Here’s hoping the NFL eventually behaves the way it would if there were another professional league that doesn’t feel compelled to snoop into a guy’s urine as part of a private police force aimed at telling guys how to live their lives away from their places of employment.

The system needs to change, and more people need to start calling for it to happen.

81 responses to “Jaguars plan to bring back Blackmon, if/when he’s reinstated

  1. Fisch has a lot of weapons now. Blackmon, Lee, Robinson, Shorts, Sanders, Lewis, Harbor paired with Storm, Gerhart and Bortles. With the new and improved offensive line this should get very interesting. Especially, if that defense starts to take shape under Bradley.

  2. So if I have a drug problem, and it doesn’t affect my work, but I can’t pass my drug test, my company should be showering me with support? Well that’s a new take on things. Bizzaro World!

  3. Blackmon, Shorts III, Ace Sanders, Marquise Lee, and Allen Robinson.

    That is one hell of a receiving corps if they are all available. The arrow in Duval is pointing up ^^^^

  4. The Jags would be 5 deep at WR: Blackmon, Shorts, Ace, Lee and Robinson. I know they want to be a run first team, but with that line up copying the saints would be a better move.

  5. Get better JB, were pulling for ya.
    Come back next year when Bortles is ready, Lee and Robinson with a year experience and Shorts…that passing attack would be legit.

  6. You have hit the nail right on the head Florio. There is no reason to keep obvious high talent sitting on the couch when they could be expanding the NFL’s fan base and making it a better product. The talent pool is watered down enough, especially when there is no performance enhancement involved.

  7. Drug tests are pretty common in the workplace and many employers will fire you for a failed test. I’m willing to bet they test at NBC…..

  8. And a simple question?

    Does NBC drug test you? If they wanted to drug test you regularly but add another zero on your pay would you do it?

    Maybe you earn 300,000? Would you stay clean to earn 3 million? That’s not asking much is it?

  9. Sorry, but for guys who have already had multiple chances, it’s time to let them be responsible for not only their actions, but the consequences of their actions. All of these multiple violators should be cut to send a message to both them and their teammates that there comes a point where people give up on trying to help them and are tired of them becoming a distraction to the team. Many of these multiple violators will NEVER change without long-term professional help … and they need to be away from the team and the game in order to get that help. They are crying out for help, but can’t get it if everyone keeps saying that they forgive them and will give them a sixth, seventh or even an eighth chance. Sorry, but these guys need to be severed from their teams while they get the professional counseling they so badly need.

  10. Hell yes! If you let them drink you have to let them use marijuana. It’s legal in Colorado And my home state of Washington. Who represented the Super Bowl last year? Lighten up!
    Signed,
    The fans!

  11. Except it is common for employers to drug test employees, including for marijuana, in pretty much every “profession”. Some employers (based on law) cannot fire employees with an addiction if they have not been offered treatment but that doesn’t preclude the employer from punishing the employee by suspending him/her. My employer may have to offer me treatment but I’m not sure they would have to pay for it.

    To say they shouldn’t be suspended for a positive drug test would be saying you don’t think they should have the same standards as pretty much ever other “profession” in the country.

  12. This isn’t some magical make believe land. If I’m a team owner id do everything I could to keep talented players on my team bc talent is hard to come by. But from a league point of view why should they care about these players? They aren’t in the business of rehabilitating. Would NBC keep you around Florio if you kept breaking rules or laws?

  13. I’m sure they would. Kid has more talent than most number 1 recievers on other teams. Just has a peanut sized brain. If he gets right and back on the Jags, they will have something going there. That owner and the coaching staff know what they are doing. Good to see. Great military town. Need to have a good team there again…

  14. How daring of PFT, an NBC site to actually call the NFL as it is, a monopoly… Makes a person wonder about the political kick backs to maintain their status amongst all of the supposed anti-trust laws that exist… Still a person is responsible for their actions. Fair or not the league dictates the rules.

  15. Mike, what you said makes too much sense for a culture bent on punishment. Treatment is reserved for the 1% and their children, when they get caught.

    Despite being rich, players are just workers, who don’t get the blanket protection or sympathy of affluenza.

  16. Although this article makes some good points, they are, unfortunately, irrelevant. The NFL is obsessed with its image, and how it is perceived by the general public. The NFL wants to be a brand that appeals to children, seniors, etc. and so there’s no way they will ever back off their public stance when it comes to substance abuse issues.

    These players know when they come into the league that they are going to be tested…it is in their contract. I personally have no problem with weed or alcohol (I’ve done my share of both), but if my job required me to be piss tested, I’d have to live without toking up.

    That said, I do think they could devote more resources to “helping” those who have been suspended for substance issues…but let’s be real, no one goes to rehab because they like the ganjah a little too much.

  17. What’s with banging the drum for coddling alleged men who are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars – minimum – to play a game while not ingesting mind altering substances? I’m a teacher. I don’t make nearly as much as even a UDFA rookie. If I am randomly selected for screening by my district and my urine shows any sort of mind altering substances I’m fired. If a breathalizer shows .01 BAC I’m fired. No questions. No review. Just fired. Why should NFL players be exempt from the same sorts of employment hassles the fans face?

    People do not need to whine on behalf of NFL players. They’re men. If they have addictions then they can choose to seek help for them. Or, like Ricky Williams, they can choose dope over football and millions of dollars. That the NFL is a monopoly isn’t relevant to this topic. Would a league know primarily as a refuge for potheads really “rival” the NFL?

    Besides, former players like Michael “Throw Me Some Crack” Irvin have made it perfectly clear that anyone with 6 brain cells can circumvent the drug policy. So, really, what we’re talking about is whining for idiots. That’s even lamer than whining for potheads.

    You’re not going to detect public sympathy because there isn’t any to be found for men who choose not to get a handle on their addictions and thereby squander their opportunity to make hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars playing a game……while those of us ultimately funding their lavish paychecks work in regular jobs for far less money all while being subjected to the same sort of random drug testing.

  18. Oh god, here we go. What ever happened to being held responsible for your actions? My company drug tests, so guess what I don’t do? Drugs… If this guy needs help, he’s got millions of dollars to get the help he needs, if I fail a drug test, I get fired. My company won’t send me to rehab, why should that be the NFLs responsibility? If anything, you’d think it’d be an NFLPA matter. You break the rules, you pay the price, end of story.

  19. I understand why corporations drug test their employees; a positive drug test can nullify an employee’s right to sue if they are injured on the job. In some cases, positive drug tests can also allow a corporation to terminate an employee and wash their hands clean of all financial liability upon their termination, whereas in a conventional termination (absent a failed drug test), an employer may be responsible for some portion of continued benefits or compensation.

    I don’t think its fair, but that’s why some companies drug test.

    Does the NFL try to leverage these same arguments? Such as, are teams less financially liable for players who are known to use drugs? If so, they might test for the same reason as all the other corporations in America. But that means the occasional Ricki Williams and Justin Blackmon will get caught in the wide net of drug tests.

    Ultimately, I believe that Americans have a constitutional right to inject any substance they so desire, so any drug test seems like an unnecessary infringement on privacy, but still, if a person is injured at work BECAUSE of their drug use, how else do you prove it but with a drug test? Although I highly suspect that genuine drug-related injuries at work are impossibly rare, but may occasionally happen, but at the same time, employers have completely abused their privilege of drug tests by denying worker’s comp claims on legitimate work-related injuries, just because of a failed drug test.

    Slippery slope, hard to climb.

  20. The NFL just doesn’t care. They’ll accept someone on their team regardless of what their criminal background is. The NFL more the any other major sport.

  21. He’s got an addiction.. Take your favorite craving.. Ice cream.. Smoking cigarettes.. Coffee.. And now try and stop it.. Good luck until the man overcomes his demons he will continue down the path of unrealized potential

  22. Florio I agree with you 100%. I’m so sick of the sanctimonious press engaging in the finger wagging Olympics and it’s refreshing to see you take a different stand.

    Moreover, people make mistakes. I don’t know where the fans and the press always get so much moral high ground. Hopefully, we can move on from endlessly naming and shaming any player who has broken the law.

  23. Florio,

    I’m with you that I think we need to try and help these guys get clean. With that said, they have to want it as well. If they show they clearly care and want to clean up, then I’m all for the league doing more to help them and get them clean. If they don’t want to clean up and want to continually abuse substances and not represent the league and their team in a professional manner, then after a third strike of punishment and help to clean up, they should part ways.

    Hopefully Blackmon wants to get cleaned up and is talking to the right people with the Jags to do this. He is a very good player and both he and the Jaguars can benefit if he does the right thing.

  24. I like this post. A lot of times when ever an article comes along reporting substance abuse many fans want immediately rag on the players because they’re throwing away millions for the substance. There should help for these players. In Blackmon’s, being that he’s young, he could easily go down a bad spiral if there isn’t hope and help. Just my two cents.

  25. I care if he ingests illegal substances and I care if he gets behind the wheel or does something else illegal or harmful while impaired. But with marijuana legalized in some states, I don’t care if a player smokes a little to unwind. But if he’s doing something stronger and more addictive that can only be obtained in the black market, it can possibly make him dependent to his supplier which can risk affecting the integrity of the game if his supplier is also involved in major gambling operations. A little bit of a stretch but another possible risk aside from the obvious image issues the NFL is concerned about.

  26. Yeah…how about those millionaires use some of that money their employers give them and get their own treatment? They’re grown men, it’s not the NFL’s job to be their mommy and daddy. I doubt any other business does this (especially other sports leagues).

  27. If NFL players want workers/labor rights, then being suspended and/or terminated in the event of a failed drug test is entirely appropriate and no different than any other job.

    If NFL players demand continued exceptional health care and insurance post-career, then why would the NFL allow illicit drug use of any sort that could contribute to health issues down the road?

  28. Interesting, there were reports recently here locally they were ready to dump the dude in a matter of days. I thought that was rather foolish as you give another team a shot when/if he gets back on the field and sobers up. The Jags have no reason not to keep him just in case. Its obvious, the dude can ball.

  29. You wrote this as if he was a teen caught with beer and they laid the hammer down on him. Prior to coming into the league he had issues with alcohol. During his brief time with the league he’s had numerous arrests stemming from alcohol. If he were to get behind the wheel and kill someone the headlines would read “Why did the NFL ignore warning signs.” Every team makes treatment available to players but any addict will tell you that treatment is a waste of time until you are ready for it. How many strikes does an employer need before they rid themselves of the issue.

    If a writer at PFT showed up to work drunk all the time at some point you’d cut bait with him because he represents you and your brand.

  30. I couldn’t disagree more with your opinion on this. Helping and getting guys clean is great. But sending a message that recreational drugs are okay is a bad precedent for the league and for those thousands of young people that look up to pro football players.

  31. Why does it matter? Well, reputation risk for the NFL, for one. If you Mike were caught with possession or hit with a DUI, or something worse, would your employer just shrug and say, ‘well, what he does on his personal time, including breaking the law, doesn’t matter to us.’ Mine wouldn’t and the NFL has every right as an employer to say it matters to them.

  32. This article is short-minded….many people (myself included) submit to a random urine test and will be fired if it tests positive for recreational drugs. The threat is there to prevent people from using drugs. The NFL owes nothing to it’s employees that are not currently outlined in the CBA.

    On the other hand, I might enjoy watching a league with nothing but juicers, coke addicts and potheads running around getting chased by the raging juicers. The coke addicts would be too fast to be tackled….maybe you’re on to something.

  33. Yet you’ve been calling for irsays head since he was arrested. He wasn’t using PED’s. I think the nfl has every right to test players. They all agreed to the cba which clearly states not to smoke pot. If they break rules they should be punished. Not hard to hard a concept to figure out

  34. Florio! This is the best article ever written. I often do not agree with your Liberal stance, in this case you are 100% correct. Often these talented kids substance abuse at a young age as a crutch to cope with often horrible circumstances, and use certain drugs to escape tough and harsh realities. Most of the time , they are just hurting themselves, they have had this pattern for years. Then all of a sudden, after years of the same behavior they are expected to stop , not gonna happen! What they need is help! And banning them for a year will only make them fall deeper into addiction and isolation, and make it almost impossible to get back on track! Kudos for recognizing this and shame on the league for not!!!

  35. Many companies make you take an initial drug test and then you get the job and are not required to take another! If you have never dealt with Someone battling addiction you are clueless if you have , you agree with this 100%

  36. Excellent points. People love to degrade these guys because they’re young, rich, and frankly, black. We are too quick to forget these are merely men, and addiction has laid many fine men low. I never see the same unyielding criticism for guys like Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Addiction needs to be treated, not punished. These guys should be suspended so they can go to treatment and return when they are sober.

  37. As a diehard Jags fan I would love to keep him under all the circumstances so far! Why should we cut or trade him? He has issues, okay. Let us deal with them TOGETHER!

    As far as I am concerned as long as he can stay clean, in Jacksonville he has a job here! DTWD!!

  38. It’s no ones right to be in the NFL. They can go work for other professional leagues if they truly wanted. Maybe if the better players went to the CFL or AFL pay would increase with revenues.

    I’m sure Josh Gordon and his buddy Blackmon can call up a CFL team and get a nice pay day and be able to smoke as much as they want.

    There are other options to work. But to be in the best league and make millions. All you gotta do is not smoke any pot.

    Yeah I see how that can be so hard lol

  39. With the Jags drafting Marqis Lee and Allen Robinson in the 2nd round, why do they need Blackmon?
    I’m not a Jags fan but what did Blackmon do on the field in NFL games to inspire such loyalty? He showed talent in college but struggled in the NFL, regardless of his repeated positive testing.

  40. ofcourse they will before he got suspended for the second time he was playing well and would be a great possession receiver for bortles, and once bortles is ready to go they will start spreading people out with a deadly 4/5 receiver sets including Sanders , shorts, lee and robinson then add blackmon that offense has some seriously scary potential.

  41. You want to get your point across? Turn these dudes in to the cops,let them find out who their dealers are. Being stressed out over when the weed man you ratted out is going to show up at your door with his pitbull is way worse than time on the couch counting your millions. If you don’t want to go that route,stop testing them for non-PEDs. If some dude gets hooked on China White and rolls over dead, ah well,you just saved a bundle.

  42. Totally wrong… Pro athletes have a year round job to stay clean… Just because they aren’t actually playing they are still employed & obligated to stay clean & represent the league in a proffesional manner…
    Taking drugs that are illegal or banned is a choice & playing in the NFL is a privilege not a right & these men making millions of dollars need to be accountable for their actions
    No sympathy here at all!!!!

  43. I don’t think it’s fair to characterize the nfl as insensitive for not having ALL of their players “get it”. There are always going to be people who don’t or won’t out of spite or stupidity.

    There incentives come in the form of cash. It’s pretty simple and most of them get it.

  44. Zero tolerance for alcohol, pot and recreational drugs or acceptance that people use these things. If public safety and employee welfare are the real issues, then STOP SELLING BEER AT THE STADIUMS and on NFL GAME ADVERTISING.

    It’s clearly hypocritical. It’s also amazing in light of privacy concerns, how many think it’s OK for an employer to dictate what you do away from the job. What will you say when the COMPANY says, you can’t own a gun or you can’t “open carry”?

    If you wanna give employers dominion over your life at home and at work, then go for it.

  45. Well for one, one doesn’t need to be “clean” from marijuana. This league is so hypocritical when it comes to things like this.

  46. So many people seem to be missing the point entirely. When you say “They can get their own help..the NFL is not their Mommies and Daddies…they shouldn’t have to provide rehab etc.” Then why do you condone the NFL acting like their mommies and daddies by punishing them for smoking pot. Why on Earth should the NFL care??

    In a world where Alcohol, tobacco and double cheeseburgers are legal there is literally no sense whatsoever in banning marijuana. None

  47. Don’t change the system. Substance abuse has consequences, just as do concussions. Players need a system that manages health risks while allowing them to play. If left to ‘fans’ and the media, the NFL would make ‘Rollerball’ look like children’s play.

  48. Good move by the Jags – there is absolutely no downside to keeping him. Right now his contract is basically on hold – a contact, by the way, that heavily favors the Jaguars organization because of mistakes Blackmon made after they drafted him but before they signed him. They’re not paying him, he’s not taking up a roster spot and if he does come back they won’t have to pay him much.
    Hopefully the kid will get his act together – it’s a waste of talent otherwise.

  49. Mark my words folks! If Blackmon comes back and plays like he was, and if M. Lee and A. Robinson get better, the Jags will have THE best WR corps in the league in a few years. Don’t forget about Shorts and Ace Sanders!

  50. Great piece! I live in Jacksonville and have been mystified by endless reports from local media about how the Jaguars are “moving on” permanently and about how they’re breaking ties. B.S.! The guy is a huge talent, and it’s not like he killed someone. Of course they’ll take him back whenever they can!

  51. You’re also sending a message to the players. Break the law and take all the drugs you want. We’ll still enable you as long as you’re talented enough to produce. Colleges (Urban Meyer is the worst of the worst) have a perfect opportunity to help young kids to become men, but many of the big time programs just turn a blind eye.

  52. “why does the league care what a guy drinks, smokes, or ingests on his own time?”

    Umm, because it’s the law? And because teams pay these guys mullions to play football, which is impossible if you’re in jail from either the use of said substance or the dumb decisions people make when under the influence of them.

    Are we really going to chastise the NFL for penalizing their players for being criminals?

  53. Or maybe because the NFL acknowledges that these guys are supposed to be role models for our children (and sadly, some adults), and don’t want to create a feeling of acceptance with respect to drug use?

  54. You can’t players who sacrifice a successful career for drugs. You can’t treat stupidity.

  55. Amen Florio! These men are paid to be athletes, not role models. And when we hold them to that standard without compassion, it makes the game colder, cynical, and corporate. Give them more help or more leeway in their personal lives. As long as we’re not talking about Aaron Hernandez-like situations, I say let them play!

  56. Blackmon got suspended for continuing to drink alcohol after being arrested for DUI. The NFL acts like a Baptist Preacher! Blackmon never missed a practice and was never late for a meeting. He never tested positive for Marijuana or any illegal or PED. He drinks alcohol and refused to stop drinking after having a DUI after being drafted. Blackmon was dead wrong to drink and drive but if drinking alcohol or driving after drinking would be banned by the NFL the NFL would lose some serious cash at each game. Hypocritical to say the least.

  57. Also, if the Jags cut him while he is suspended they would have to count his Remaining Salary Money as Dead Money against their Cap. As long as he is “Suspended” by the NFL he does not count against their Cap. As time goes on his contract continues to dwindle and the Jags don’t pay Blackmon and therefore they lose nothing. If he never returns to play and his contract expires after the term of the contract runs out the Jaguars lose absolutely Nothing! So the Jags would be stupid to cut him while he is suspended.

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