Because he is not a member of the current 90-man roster, suspended Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon doesn’t have a cubicle in the team’s filled-to-capacity locker room.
Blackmon remains under contract, but with each passing day, another sign develops that he has played his last game for the franchise.
“It’s an absolute tragedy,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said Tuesday after the “State of the Franchise” presentation at EverBank Field. “I have a hard time expressing [my thoughts]. I’m a parent myself. I’ve met his parents. I think he’s such a talented guy.
“But after a while, it’s out of your control.”
Blackmon’s status was taken out of the Jaguars’ hands when he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. Even if the Jaguars wanted to release him, they can’t until he’s reinstated, and it’s unlikely that will be this year.
Khan is disappointed Blackmon hasn’t taken advantage of the programs offered by the league and NFLPA to help players in his situation.
“The league and the players association have a huge amount of resources, so the only thing I say is, ‘Please take advantage of it,’ ” Khan said. “NFL players are so lucky to have all of these resources available to them.”
Khan said Blackmon “absolutely” must want to help himself first.
“It’s, frankly, hard to understand,” Khan said.
In addition to Blackmon, another topic Khan was asked about was the relegation of Fulham FC from the English Premier League. Khan purchased the London-based team last July but they won only nine of 38 matches, had the league’s worst goal differential (minus-45) and Khan fired two managers.
When Khan purchased Fulham, he envisioned cross promotion possibilities between the Cottagers and the Jaguars. That remains the case although Fulham will now be playing in the Championship Division of English soccer.
“To me, it’s unfortunate, it’s not what we wanted, but it’s reality, OK?” Khan said. “What we have to do is build [Fulham] for the long haul. It has great assets and great fan support. Now we have to get the football side right, where you build it from the ground up, and it’s something that will last a long time.”
One problem with the “ground up” philosophy, which is similar to the Jaguars’ plan: If Fulham is terrible in 2014-15, it could be in danger of languishing in the lower division for years, a revenue-sapping debacle. The Jaguars have no such concerns during their build. Most teams that are relegated are forced to sell off their top players in order to balance the books.
“I’ve talked to [manager] Felix [Magath], and what we want to do is what’s in the best interest of the team,” Khan said. “This isn’t about balancing the books. Certainly, I’m committed to doing whatever we can to get them back [to the Premier League].”
Khan is encouraged about Fulham’s future because of its under-21 team (which finished fifth in its league this year), finances (no debt), sponsorship support (100 percent renewals) and ticket revenue (Khan said prices were among the highest in the Premier League).
“This isn’t a one-shot deal for me,” Khan said. “Are they sustainable? Yes, 100 percent.”
Fulham travels to the United States this summer and will play D.C. United of Major League Soccer July 26 at EverBank Field.