Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon heard Terrell Owens and Adam Jones speak Thursday at the NFL Rookie Symposium about the off-field mistakes they made and the price paid for them.
Blackmon must now prove he isn’t headed down the same path.
Blackmon was arrested earlier this month on a charge of aggravated DUI, marking his second alcohol-related offense in the past three years. Blackmon faces a potential NFL suspension, loss of salary and monitoring under the league’s substance-abuse program.
The incident also cast Blackmon in a far more negative light than when he was selected fifth overall by Jacksonville in April’s draft after a storied college career at Oklahoma State.
Blackmon admits the tales told by Jones and Owens probably carried more weight for him than the other AFC rookies in attendance because of his own personal errors.
“It’s powerful any time you have a player share something that happened bad for him they could have avoided,” Blackmon told me and co-host Vic Carucci on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
The 22-year-old Blackmon was arrested June 4 in Stillwater, Okla., for aggravated DUI after registering a blood-alcohol level of .024, which was three times the state’s legal limit. Multiple media outlets have reported that Blackmon’s next court date is scheduled for July 24.
Even if he pleads guilty to a lesser charge, Blackmon is still subject to NFL punishment under the league’s personal conduct policy.
“I’m certainly not downplaying the situation. It was a poor judgment choice on my part, but I’ve put it behind me,” said Blackmon, who was also arrested on a DUI charge in 2010 while at Oklahoma State. “The team is backing me. I’ve got support from them and the players. Now, I’m just looking toward the future.”
Eight other current NFL players have gotten arrested on DUI charges this offseason, the most recent of which was Detroit Lions cornerback Aaron Berry last weekend. Another was Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who is attending the rookie symposium despite his status as a second-year NFL player.
The NFL didn’t stage a rookie symposium for the 2011 draft class because of the labor strife that led to a player lockout. The NFL Players Association held a “Business of Football: Rookie Edition” conference that, while not as comprehensive as the league’s program, did emphasize to players the perils of drinking and driving.
Rookies who attended that NFLPA seminar and this year’s NFL symposium were given pamphlets by the union about the Player Transportation Link service. Current and former players can call a 24-hour number to receive a ride and have their car transported for them. The cost of the confidential service is $90 an hour.
The symposium also emphasizes a host of other resources that are available for rookies trying to make the adjustment to the NFL while keeping an eye on post-football career planning.
“Using your resources the NFL has for you — that’s the thing you hear throughout each day,” Blackmon said. “From a lot of players we heard from (in seminars), they tried to do it on their own and it didn’t end up so well. That’s the biggest thing I’ve gathered.”
The Jaguars are hoping that Blackmon can energize one of the NFL’s weakest passing attacks. The 6-1, 210-pound Blackmon caught 253 passes for 3,564 yards and 40 touchdowns during his three seasons at Oklahoma State. He also was a two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award given to the nation’s top wide receiver.