|Justin Blackmon pleased not guilty to DUI but damage has already been done. (Getty Images)|
According to information supplied by various people close enough to Justin Blackmon to know, the Jacksonville first-rounder never met R. Jay Soward or Reggie Williams or Matt Jones or Jimmy Smith. But with his early Sunday morning arrest for DUI, the player chosen with the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft six weeks ago has been lumped with many of the troubled wide receivers in Jaguars' history.
In much the same way, there have been some flimsy attempts at a link with Dez Bryant, the problematic Dallas wide receiver who also played at Oklahoma State.
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But the folks in Jacksonville who operate the Jaguars have, over the past two days, quickly suggested they aren't buying it. They have at least privately disavowed the notion that the franchise carries some kind of crazy curse when it comes to wide receivers. So have people in Stillwater, Okla., where both Bryant and Blackmon plied their college careers, and created their share of "issues."
No, Justin Blackmon is on his own with this one, and the Jacksonville officials who will meet with him upon his arrival in town later this week intend to hammer home that point. Responsibility and accountability are two of the intended hallmarks of new owner Shahid Khan's stewardship of the franchise, and Blackmon is apt to become eminently familiar with both those terms over the next week or so.
There is nothing in the DNA of a wide receiver branded with the Jags' label, no sinister genetic marker inherent to former Oklahoma State pass catchers, on which Blackmon can attempt to hang his latest indiscretion.
Nope, this was a 22-year-old man responsible for his actions, and the Jaguars will let Blackmon know that.
"It has nothing to do with anyone but (Blackmon)," a Jacksonville official told The Sports Xchange on Monday evening. "We'll deal with him on this incident ... not any ghosts of the past."
Translation: No alibis accepted from a wide receiver for whom Jacksonville dealt up two spots in the April draft, who is expected to start, and is being counted on to help advance second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert and improve a passing game that ranked dead last statistically in the league in 2011.
Then again, it's not as if Blackmon hasn't heard similar lectures in the recent past from NFL scouts in general, Jacksonville officials in particular, and from personal advisors. His resume, well known around the league and certainly to the Jaguars' personnel department -- a speeding arrest in 2009 and a 2010 DUI-related charge that was subsequently reduced to beer possession -- created some concerns over his maturity level before the draft. But Blackmon, who has been suspended for one game in 2010 by coach Mike Gundy, seemed appropriate remorseful to scouts, noted a talent evaluator from a franchise that seriously considered choosing him. This time around, he will have to be more convincing.
Said the Jacksonville official: "It's (look in the) mirror time. He's going to have to 'fess up,' take ownership of the situation, and lay out a course for dealing with this thing head-on."
The league, already investigating the Sunday incident, doubtless will play a part in the latter regard. At the least, Blackmon will face counseling and probably a fine. Based on the alleged aggravating circumstances -- Oklahoma law calls for the "aggravated DUI" charge when a blood alcohol test measures greater than .15 and Blackmon blew a .24, but reports indicate he was also "argumentative" with police -- there could be a suspension.
"A tough break," an associate of Blackmon's termed the situation.
Maybe so, but "a tough lesson," driven home by team officials attempting to turn around the club's image, might be more appropriate for a guy who doesn't have any excuses.