OSU Football: Blackmon character concerns?
The NFL Draft is less than a month away.
You know what that means.
Let the spin doctoring commence!
Teams have been known to drop all sorts of information (and misinformation) to their contacts in the sports media to achieve their desired outcomes. Maybe they want to move up in the draft. Maybe they want to trade a pick. Maybe they want to make a player look not quite so good to teams picking ahead of them.
Remember all that talk before the 2007 draft about how Adrian Peterson’s injuries might be a big red flags to teams.
Seems like he’s turned out OK.
I was reminded of all this Friday morning as I read our gal Gina Mizell’s story on Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden being invited to work out for the Cleveland Browns. Everyone figured that might happen since both former Oklahoma State standouts would be logical targets for the woeful Browns.
But the bit that hit me square between the eyes was that Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki said on a conference call that Blackmon has character issues.
“He has shown a lot of talent, but more and more concerns are coming up about the maturity level,” Nawrocki said. “That needs to be investigated closely.”
(Of course, Nawrocki also said that “many left his pro day unimpressed” when in reality Blackmon’s 4.46 40-yard dash time had everyone buzzing, so take his analysis for what it’s worth.)
Everyone knows, of course, that Blackmon had that DUI during the 2010 season and served a one-game suspension, but everyone in our neck of the woods also knows how contrite and apologetic Blackmon was after the incident. Less than 48 hours after his arrest, Blackmon sat in front of the media and, by extension, the Cowboy Nation and said how sorry he was.
“I made a mistake, and I take full responsibility for it,” he said. “I’m embarrassed to be in this position. I am truly sorry to my family, my friends and Oklahoma State.”
I probably don’t need to tell you, but it’s rare for an athlete to stand up and speak out after an off-field incident. Not just at the college level, but at the pro level, too. What Blackmon did that October day took maturity the likes of which we rarely see in sports.
He was even asked about why he decided to do a press conference.
“To prove I’m not that guy and own up to my mistakes,” he said. “I did it, and I should be punished for it.”
Now, I’m not suggesting that what he did in that press conference erases what he did a couple nights before on a suburban Dallas freeway. But if you’re going to look at the times when he was immature, you also need to look at the ones when he’s been mature.
And there are plenty of those.
Playing through an ankle sprain that would’ve sidelined most players in Bedlam two years ago. Deciding to return for his junior year because he wanted to better prepare himself mentally for the NFL and for the NFL life. Going home to Ardmore regularly to hang out with friends from Plainview High. Befriending a cancer patient who became his biggest fan.
I know you’ve heard the story of Blackmon and Olivia Hamilton, the young girl from Sperry who’s been battling cancer for more than two years. It’s been often told. But there are little tidbits of their story that have gone untold that bring into question this whole “character issues” thing.
Take, for example, this one: last fall, Olivia was a cheerleader for one of Sperry’s little-league football teams. One of the team’s games happened to be in Stillwater, and when Olivia got to town, she sent Blackmon a text message and told him that she was there.
Olivia’s mom, Jennifer, admits that she never thought anything would come of it. Blackmon’s a college kid, she figured, with better things to do than come to a little-league football game.
Lo and behold, Blackmon showed up.
But wait, there’s more.
Not only did he come to the game, but he also joined in on the fun. He snagged one of the megaphones and helped with the cheers.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know all the ins and outs of Blackmon’s life. I don’t know what he does with his free time. I don’t know if he has any bad vices or ugly secrets. NFL teams, of course, have an army of investigators with unlimited resources who look into those sorts of things.
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