Jones-Drew not helping Justin Blackmon
May, 14, 2013
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
USA TODAY SportsMaurice Jones-Drew says the media is blowing the Justin Blackmon situation "out of proportion."Maurice Jones-Drew thinks the media is blowing Justin Blackmon's four-game suspension out of proportion.
In making such a claim I believe he’s doing a disservice to Blackmon.
A four-game suspension under the league’s policy against substance abuse is a big deal, a sign of a growing issue. It’s not something to be casually dismissed as being about the media.
I believe Jones-Drew’s response to Blackmon’s situation is nothing short of irresponsible. He said the reaction’s been “out of control.”
"The media just blows it out of proportion," Jones-Drew said, per an Associated Press report. "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."
For a guy who’s got a regular gig on Sirius-XM Radio, who serves as the face of the franchise on a national level and who has the ability to be charming and disarming, I’m amazed at how consistently Jones-Drew misses the mark on big issues.
He was critical of Jay Cutler not playing in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, but then sprinted away from his comments, telling people he was joking, but apologizing and shifting blame to the media. He disrespected the Jaguars new coach last year, failing to communicate directly with Mike Mularkey about how he wouldn’t be reporting to OTAs. Then Jones-Drew failed to gain an inch as a result of a purposeless holdout that stood no chance of helping him or his team.
As for his casual response to Blackmon’s suspension:
There are plenty of first-round picks in the NFL who can qualify as young and newly rich who don’t get into repeated trouble with alcohol (and, perhaps, something else we don’t know about). At that age and with that amount of money, a high percentage of them have managed not to get suspended for four games. That’s what they did. Though he wasn't as highly drafted as Blackmon, that's what Jones-Drew did, by the way.
The media didn’t sign up for a collective bargaining agreement that spells out what has to be done to earn a four-game suspension.
The media didn’t get itself placed in the first phase of the NFL’s policy and program for substances of abuse. Or commit the violation necessary to be placed in the second phase. Or commit the violation required in order to earn the four-game suspension for a violation once in the second phase.
The media isn’t missing four games, hurting the team MJD is supposed to be leading.
The media isn’t costing itself nearly $220,000 or triggering a clause in Blackmon’s contract that enables the Jaguars to cut him at any point going forward without being on the hook for any further money.
As a member of the media, I’m admittedly, inherently, get defensive when things are blamed on the media that aren’t the media’s fault. (We are hardly without sin. The volume on Tim Tebow? That's us. Blackmon's problems? That's Blackmon.) If Blackmon drove drunk and injured an innocent bystander, I wonder if MJD would put that on reporters and columnists.
Full disclosure: Jones-Drew and I don’t get along. He hasn’t cared for much of what I’ve written about him. He and his agent and his loyalists and maybe even some team brass will see this blog post as piling on.
That’s the price that comes with seeking to hold a star player accountable for comments that often are not well thought out. He’s an excellent football player. When he chimes in on topics like this one, I feel like he's often trying to pass the buck rather than showing a belief in the importance of personal accountability.
At least Jones-Drew said that Blackmon has something to prove going forward.
"We're going to see what kind of character he has," Jones-Drew said.
It’s good to know there is a point at which MJD will stop shifting blame and defending a teammate in the wrong.
For the sake of everyone involved, I hope it doesn’t get worse for Blackmon. Another misstep means a year suspension and would probably be the end of him as a member of the Jaguars.
Another Jaguars receiver had troubles that started in a similar fashion. Things wound up far worse for Jimmy Smith: He just got sentenced to six years in prison for drug possession and weapons charges.