The promising pro football career of Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon is now officially teetering on the brink of implosion.
Blackmon, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, has been suspended for the balance of the 2013 season. He is eligible to apply for reinstatement before the 2014 season.
“All of us who are a part of the Jaguars family care very deeply about Justin and his well-being,” Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell said in a team-issued release. “That said, he must be held accountable and accept the consequences announced today by the NFL. His suspension will provide him the opportunity to receive the attention and professional treatment necessary to overcome his challenges, and we will support him during this time. The Jacksonville Jaguars will evaluate Justin’s status once he has successfully met the criteria to be considered for reinstatement to the league.”
The eight-game suspension strongly suggests, based on the language of the substance-abuse policy, that the penalty was the result of a negotiation between the NFL and the NFLPA.
Blackmon, as we understand it, was in Stage 3 of the league’s substance-abuse program. Violation of the policy while in Stage Three ordinarily results in a banishment with the ability to re-apply after a calendar year. The union and/or Blackmon’s representatives apparently persuaded the league to trim the return date in half.
Still, Blackmon must remain clean throughout his suspension, since he remains subject to unannounced testing up to 10 times per month. Any further slip-ups will make it harder for him to secure reinstatement in 2014.