By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
It’s funny how a simple comment made on Facebook by family gets you thinking about football. This time, my brother is the winner of the gold star for reminding me not everything in this town is about winning and losing – the fans continue to be the life line of this NFL community and the Jaguars are truly heroes in many eyes in Jacksonville, especially children.
For those of you who do not know my brother Rob, he has three beautiful children. On Monday, they met Justin Blackmon at their school, came home and raved about how cool it was to meet a “Jaguar.”
I love the fact children in elementary school identify with the Jaguars the way they do, the idea that Jaxson DeVille is an important part of the educational process in this community and that the Jaguars are invited to be art of the Play 60 initiative set forth by the NFL and local communities to teach the importance of physical education and outside play as part of a healthy lifestyle.
To that end, I am also excited about the idea of Justin Blackmon of all Jaguars players as the one guy who my niece and nephews are talking about today. Blackmon needs the publicity. If there was ever a time for the second year player to step up and become the face of this franchise, it is now. While the Jaguars are stuck in a winless streak (that hopefully will end Sunday) and the talk of trading players like Maurice Jones-Drew and Jason Babin remain hot topics, there is a gentle peace in knowing that Blackmon is out having fun with kids and nurturing relationships with youngsters who may need a person to look up to, just like JB14 may need a shoulder to lean on as he too grows up in the world of the NFL.
I am not going to rehash Blackmon’s troubles with the team, the law or the NFL. I will leave that to other more qualified media members. But Blackmon put himself behind the eight ball again when he was suspended for the first four NFL games this season. Since then, it would appear he has shown some maturity on and off the playing field. And when he starting playing football again last week in Edward Jones Dome and then torching the Broncos secondary for 190 yards, the NFL knew front and center that Blackmon was not the troubled kid he may have been in training camp or the preseason – JB14 had the makings of a standup young man.
If the Jaguars do trade MJD and let Babin help a playoff team that needs a pass rusher and entertains the idea of letting Paul Posluszny walk next season because of his contract, who will be left to lead this team? Cecil Shorts is great – but not a household name. Teddy Bridgewater may be drafted and come here and have to revive a team. Being a role model will not be the first thing on his agenda. Blackmon may accept the role by default – and maybe he already has.
If he can make three youngsters talk about how great it was to meet a rising NFL star, think how great it would be if he took that kind of admiration and used it as motivation to not only make himself a bigger star in our community, think of what it could do to make him an even better human being.