It’s hard not to feel bad for people who bought Justin Blackmon jerseys. Not only is he a massive bust, a guy who hasn’t touched the field in two and a half years, but now the team’s officials are saying it’s more than likely that he’ll never play NFL football again.
When he was drafted by Jacksonville in the first round, out of Oklahoma State, people thought he was the next Dez Bryant. In fact, a lot of people thought he’d be better than Bryant. When the two were teammates at OSU, after all, it was Blackmon, and not Bryant, who won a pair of Biletnikoff Awards. It was Blackmon, not Bryant, who led the team’s receiving stats.
This sounds hilarious now, but this is what Warren Moon—a guy who knows a thing or two about football—said about Blackmon before the draft, just after news had broken that he was going to skip his senior year and jump into the NFL:
“He’s a beast, isn’t he? He’s like Dez Bryant with all of his brain cells. He’s a guy that has all those skills that Dez Bryant has but he’s not the knucklehead that Dez Bryant has turned out to be with Dallas. And a much better route runner than Dez Bryant is, but a very tremendous talent.”
Seriously. Warren Moon said that. In real life.
Instead, Blackmon has violated the substance abuse policy three times, and the Jags have suspended him. He last played in 2013, in Week 8. To date, he has just 1,280 receiving yards in his “three-year” career. He has scored only six touchdowns, five of which came in his rookie year.
And that’s it, according the Jags’ GM. While the team hasn’t cut him and probably won’t, he’s not playing, he’s not practicing, and he’s not getting paid. Is he really going to grow up and come back after three years, ready to go?
If he does, the Jags still hold his rights. That’s why they’ve neglected to cut him, just suspending him instead. His rookie deal was for a total of four years, and they still have the majority of that—two and a half years—left. He can’t come back and play anywhere but Jacksonville. The team, though, has given up on him.
It’s slightly shocking, really. Blackmon has made in the realm of $6 million, with just under $3 million for two years in signing bonuses and a base salary for his rookie season of $390,000. He also had a base salary in 2014 of $289,745, but he only got about half of that before he was suspended.
That’s a good amount of money for anyone; don’t get me wrong. But the whole contract was for $18,512,010. If Blackmon got around $6.5, he left about $12 million on the table. What could he possibly be doing that is more important to him than $12 million dollars?
The substance abuse allegations give some clues. Maybe he’s hooked and can’t get off of it. Johnny Manziel checked himself into rehab because of these types of issues this summer. Perhaps Blackmon needs the same sort of help; there were reports that he also went to rehab. But these types of things aren’t the same for everyone, and maybe it’s too large of a problem for him to beat.
Maybe he was slighted by the suspensions. There’s a chance he feels it’s him against the team, at this point. That could make him not want to play for them, but his contract says he can’t play anywhere else.
It’s all speculation, but the pieces fit. And it’s sad. Warren Moon’s quote may be ridiculous now, but he had some points. Blackmon was statistically one of the best in college, and he had the awards to back it up. Now all that potential seems to have washed right out of the NFL.