When it comes to Forgotten Sports Heroes—there are few players out there as beloved as former Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Justin Carl Blackmon was more than a wide receiver on the football field—he was truly a force of nature.
The story of Justin Blackmon reminds me of musical icon Whitney Houston. People always say—that’s so sad. To be fair—her story is—for certain—incredibly tragic. Blessed with one in a billion type talent—Whitney Houston had the voice of an angel. There will never be another Whitney. We all know that. But—life is all about perspective and I choose to think—at least we got to see what we did out of Whitney—instead of thinking—“what could have been”.
I choose the same perspective to help me cope with the fact that Justin Carl Blackmon is no longer playing football. It is incredibly sad that he’s not—for sure. His potential Hall-of-Fame caliber NFL career was derailed by his substance abuse issues—which could be another article in itself. That’s another article for another day. Much like Whitney Houston made music with her vocals with the microphone, Blackmon made music on the football field at Oklahoma State with Brandon Weeden.
#81 established himself as one of the greatest receivers in college football history in a matter of two years. He dominated the game in a way that has been rarely been seen. With his bulging biceps protruding from his uniform and his clear visor glistening in the Stillwater sky—Blackmon was unguardable. He became just the second receiver in college football history to win the Biletnikoff Award twice (2010 & 2011). He hauled in over 230 catches in two seasons—while shredding opposing secondaries to the tune of over 3,200 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns.
He was a consensus first team All-American in back-to-back (2010 & 2011) seasons for the Cowboys. He also earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2010—becoming the first receiver to win the award. He holds the NCAA records for most consecutive games gaining 100 yards or more and most games gaining 200 yards or more.
For anyone out there who was a fan of his game—there are certainly some feelings of “what could have been.” There’s no question Blackmon would have been a Hall-of-Famer in the NFL—no doubt in my mind. He had an amazing ability to adjust his body to the football—no matter where it was thrown. He was a master at boxing out opposing DBs in the end zone when it came to fade passes in Stillwater.
Unfortunately—playing in the NFL was not on Blackmon’s agenda. He knew the rules to play in the NFL. He needed to get his substance abuse issues under control or football was finished.
When you get arrested four times in five years for substance abuse—let’s just say—it’s clear playing professional football is not your priority. His alcohol issues were so bad before entering the NFL—the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sent a scout to Blackmon’s favorite bar in Stillwater to see how often Blackmon went there in a week.
The Bucs GM Discussed This in an Article on Deadspin: “We found out there was a bar called the Cricket Inn or the Cricket, which was a popular bar there in Oklahoma State,” said Dominik. “He [the scout] sat there for one week, went in at 3 o’clock every day and stayed until 11 o’clock at night. That was his job, and we checked how many times did Justin Blackmon come in? And he came in too many times and we took him off our board.”
They could have taken the man who was the best wide receiver in college football for two seasons—but he instead was picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars took Blackmon at #5 in the first round—and the rest—they say—is history.
He flashed his enormous potential in the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Jaguars. On November 18, 2012–he had 236 receiving yards in ONE game as an NFL rookie—the third most receiving yards by a rookie in NFL history. Unfortunately—Blackmon’s alcohol issues would follow him in the NFL—and he could never get things under control.
The last mention of Blackmon on the Internet is from 2017—when he got off probation after avoiding arrest for a year. Not a peep has been heard from him in the past few years. He has faded from the public spotlight entirely. Many football fans have probably forgotten about him—but it’s hard to forget about a player who was so incredibly dominant, so incredibly rare.
It stings to write about Blackmon. But much like Whitney—I choose to remember to be thankful we got to see what we did—which was one of the greatest receivers ever to play the game. He was incredible. Whenever there is another legendary receiver in college football—they will have a hard time matching the accomplishments of Mr. Blackmon. He might have faded out of the public spotlight for several years—but few football fans out there will ever forget Justin Blackmon.
Watch Blackmon put up 186 yards and three scores in the Cowboys’ 41-38 come from behind win over Stanford in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl below. And be sure to follow us on our Facebook page here for more nostalgia, video footage, articles and more in the coming months:
Justin Blackmon photo above via USATSI