Former OSU Star Blackmon Denies Having Substance-Abuse Problem
Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon says he doesn't have an alcohol or substance-abuse problem, adding that his issue is "making a poor decision."
Blackmon was suspended last month for the first four games of the 2013 season for violation the league's substance-abuse policy.
He spoke publicly for the first time Monday, apologizing to teammates and saying he's looking to "put it in the past."
He says, "If you want to ask if I have a problem? I have a problem with making a poor decision."
He declined comment when asked whether he planned to enroll in a rehabilitation program.
Blackmon pleaded guilty last summer to aggravated DUI, which put him in the league's substance-abuse program. Although he declined to reveal what triggered his suspension, he may have failed a random test.
Blackmon, who caught 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, will miss games against Kansas City, Oakland, Seattle and Indianapolis to open the season. He will be eligible to return to practice Monday, Sept. 30. He will be allowed to attend meetings and be inside the facility during the suspension, but can't practice or play.
Blackmon apologized to teammates shortly after the suspension was announced April 30.
"He came across well," veteran center Brad Meester said. "He just apologized for what he did. He knew he was wrong and said it wouldn't happen again. We all accepted that. ... We can't control what people do what they leave here. We can't change what happened in the past. We have to be there for him and help him through this and make sure this doesn't happen again."
Running Maurice Jones-Drew, though, said reaction to Blackmon's suspension has been "out of control."
"The media just blows it out of proportion," Jones-Drew said. "A lot of people make several mistakes. If you're that age and you have that amount of money, how would you act? If you answer that question truthfully, you can go from there."
Plenty of first-round draft picks, however, go their entire careers without landing in the substance-abuse policy or on the suspended list.
"You have to do the right thing no matter where you are," Meester said. "We're blessed with this opportunity. You'd hate to lose that opportunity because of something dumb you did outside of here. You don't want that to be the reason you can't play this game."
If Blackmon gets another suspension while in the program, it would be for a full season.
"We're going to see what kind of character he has," Jones-Drew said.
Blackmon's four-game hiatus will cost him about$220,000. It also triggered language in his contract that voids future guarantees, meaning the Jaguars could cut him without having to pay about $10 million that remains on a four-year, $18.5 million contract.
Blackmon made it clear he wants to move on from the suspension, but the 23-year-old receiver stopped short of saying he plans to change his lifestyle.
"I've just got to make better decisions," he said. "Like I said, my problem was I made a selfish decision and I apologize for that. I apologized to my teammates and I apologized to my family for it. That's something that I did and I take full responsibility for it."