Will Blackmon

The cornerback doesn’t just have a Super Bowl ring; he’s got the number XLVI tattooed across his knuckles.

While football player Will Blackmon may not yet be a household name or have his own Fathead, he is in air more rarified than that of the 1 percent. According to the NFL Players Association: “Statistically of the 100,000 high school seniors who play football every year, only 215 will ever make an NFL roster. That is 0.2 percent! Even of the 9,000 players that make it to the college level only 310 are invited to the NFL scouting combine. As you can see, most people who want to become NFL players will not.”

Much is written about the lifestyle of NFL superstars during the off-season—Tom Brady parties with his supermodel wife in Rio, Jared Allen hunts bears, the Manning brothers become rap stars—but there are also players who spend that time spiraling in the air, not sure which helmet, if any, they will be wearing come the fall. Will Blackmon is one of those players.

Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2006, the cornerback and returner had his share of highlights, such as scoring off a punt return and a fumble in the 2007 NFC title game, but he was also hobbled by injuries and a botched surgery. In 2010, the Packers released Blackmon, and he had to watch the team that he helped build go on to win the Super Bowl.

But he focused on his rehab and got the chance to play for the New York Giants, whom he helped win Super Bowl XLVI. “That was honestly just so surreal,” Blackmon says. “I felt like I was owed one.” In lieu of a Disneyland celebration, Blackmon got the number of the Super Bowl tattooed across his knuckles. But due to roster moves, the Giants cut Blackmon and he didn’t play last season. “I kept dealing with injuries so I was like, dude, I need to do something crazy—like how when some women are dealing with something incredibly painful and cut off their hair—I went and had my entire back blasted,” he says. The tattoo features angel wings that represent his mother, Allison, who died when he was 6 as a result of having Crohn’s disease. She was also the inspiration for his first tattoo, 5/14/91 (the day she passed), and the sleeve with religious iconography on his right arm.

Through extremely hard work in the offseason Blackmon was signed by the Seattle Seahawks earlier this year. He fought valiantly for a spot in their vaunted defense but after the third preseason game he was yet again released. Blackmon was down but not out. The next day the Jacksonville Jaguars called and he put on the two-tone helmet. Jacksonville is the fourth city in four years where he and his wife, Shauna Danielle, have had to make a home. “She is everything to me,” he says. “We ride or die together.” So far, the couple and their young son, Ryder, are loving Florida, and Blackmon is loving life back on the field. “I haven’t had this much fun since playing high school football at Bishop Hendricken back in Rhode Island.” He is focused on putting “my damn stamp on games.” If Blackmon plays up to his expectations, he and his family will spend the next off-season shopping for a bigger house in North Florida or the next town in need of a speedy, hard-hitting, and determined football player.

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