Blackmon’s Second Brush with Law Raises Concerns

After he reportedly blew a 0.24 blood-alcohol level, it’s shocking Justin Blackmon even found his car in the parking lot, let alone attempted to drive it home.

Blackmon, the fifth overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, had yet to sign his rookie contract with the Jaguars before being arrested last weekend for aggravated DUI. But as the fifth overall selection in the 2011 draft, Patrick Peterson signed for $18.42 million, all of which was fully guaranteed. Thus, we know Blackmon was going to sign a deal in the ballpark of $18 million.

And for less than $100 he could have called a cab to drive him home safely that night. Hell, if he wanted to be a big shot he could have hired a personal driver for just a little bit more. Why he decided to risk his life, the lives of others and his professional football career before it even got started is the $18 million question.

Blackmon’s DUI arrest is disappointing. It’s disappointing for the Jaguars, who desperately lack star power outside of Maurice Jones-Drew. It’s disappointing for the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell, who now has to discipline a young man that just two months ago stood beside him on the greatest day of his life. And it’s disappointing for football fans, who have sadly become accustomed to reading daily stories about athletes running afoul of the law.

What’s unnerving about this situation is the fact that Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested for the same infraction less than a week before Blackmon. Granted, we’re talking about different players, different teams and different cities, but the NFL is still regarded as a brotherhood, is it not? Do you mean to tell me that Blackmon didn’t look at Fairley’s two arrests and say with conviction: “That’s not going to be me. Not again.”

In the grand scheme of things, let’s hope that Blackmon receives more than just punishment from the NFL. Let’s hope he receives help. Obviously, he has an issue when it comes to getting behind the wheel after having a few cocktails (or 27 in the case of his latest arrest), because this is the second time he’s been popped for DUI. The league and the Jaguars have a responsibility that from this point forward Blackmon only makes headlines on the field – not off it.

Quick-Hit Thoughts from the NFL:

1. I’m willing to bet that Steve Spagnuolo struggles in his first year as defensive coordinator with the Saints, and it has very little to do with the bounty scandal. Make no mistake, Spagnuolo’s defense has more depth, is more creative and is more versatile than the one Gregg Williams developed in his three-plus decades of coaching. Bounty program or not, Williams has had a ton of success in the NFL, but his playcalling could be described as reckless at times. No, Spagnuolo’s defense could struggle because the Saints simply lack the pass-rushers needed to allow Spags’ scheme to fire on all cylinders. Unless 2011 first-round pick Cam Jordan is willing to take a major step in his development, the Saints don’t have a premier pass-rusher on their roster. Will Smith has been that player at times throughout his career, but he’s on the wrong side of 30 and hasn’t posted double-digit sacks since 2009. It doesn’t appear that Sedrick Ellis, a former top 10 pick, will ever develop into a consistent pass-rusher either. Thus, until GM Mickey Loomis gives Spags more to work with, the Saints’ defense could struggle more than people expect.

2. Speaking of the Saints, what’s their line of thinking when it comes to Drew Brees’ contract? ESPN’s Ed Werder reports that the two sides remain roughly $2 million-per-year apart in long-term negotiations. Seriously? Two million a year for the man who means more to your franchise than any other player? At a time when the Saints desperately need leadership, Brees continues to stay away from team headquarters because New Orleans is balking over a few million. Someone should ask Tom Benson how many millions he’ll lose if Brees doesn’t wind up playing for the Saints this year. Then we’ll see how fast he breaks out his checkbook.

3. The Baltimore Sun reports that the Ravens will let Joe Flacco play out the final year of his rookie contract instead of signing him to a long-term extension, which is hardly surprising. The Ravens need to lock up Ray Rice first before making any decisions on Flacco, who still has plenty to prove heading into his fifth year. His completion percentage has dropped every year since 2009, and he’s yet to post a QB rating higher than 93.6 (which was his rating in 2010). After locking up Rice, the Ravens can wait and apply the franchise tag to Flacco next offseason.

4. It’s been two weeks since I went to Rams Park to watch OTAs, so I apologize about the staleness of this quick-hit. But while I was there I couldn’t believe how impressive Janoris Jenkins looked. Down after down he would line up, get his hands on the wideout quickly, sneak a look into the backfield in order to diagnose the play and then find the receiver again without losing a step in coverage. He’s that quick. Granted, a lot of players look great in shirts and shorts, so I don’t want to exaggerate one performance in one OTA practice. But if he stays out of trouble he could wind up being the steal of the second round, if not the entire draft.

5. Only Terrell Owens could make an appearance on Dr. Phil, get released by an Indoor Football League team that he had ownership in and fire one of the most successful agents in sports history in less than one month. “It was important for me to hire someone who believes in my ability to help an NFL team and believes in me as a person,” Owens said in a statement after leaving Drew Rosenhaus. Based on that statement, I’m shocked T.O. didn’t hire himself.