It was just reported that Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Johnny Jolly will be reinstated by the NFL on March 4, 2013. Jolly has not played a snap football since the 2009 season, though Packers do still own his rights.
Though the Packers do need help on the defensive line, and though they have always been believers in Jolly’s talent, I hope the team doesn’t waste any more time on this guy. Here’s why:
In the summer of 2008, Jolly was arrested for felony possession of codeine. He was able to play in 2009 because of frequent delays to his trial. He managed to escape jail time, but was suspended by the NFL for the entirety of the 2010 season.
Within a week after 2010 season ended, Jolly applied for reinstatement with the NFL. A month later, he was arrested again for possession of codeine. How stupid do you have to be? You’re trying to get back in the league after a drug possession charge and you get caught doing the exact same thing?? Actually, it was worse, as it was three times the original amount, so he earned himself an intent-to-distribute charge, as well.
You’ll never be able to guess what happened six months later — Jolly was arrested yet again for codeine possession. This time he added a tampering with evidence charge for trying to hide the evidence. In November 2011, Jolly was sentenced to six years in prison. He served only six months before being released on probation.
Jolly has had support from his Packers teammates, including Aaron Rodgers, who believed that Jolly’s suspension from the league — and prohibition from the team facilities — led to more problems for Jolly. Said Rodgers:
I’ll be honest, I think the league deserves some of the blame in this case. When you look at some of the other guys that have been reinstated in the league after jail sentences, and justly, rightly so, Johnny didn’t serve any days in prison, sat out for a year and still couldn’t get his case heard, from what I was told. I just think that that’s wrong. I think the commissioner’s done a great job of cleaning up some of the stuff in the league. That said, if you take a guy away from his support system, I don’t think that’s helping.
Rodgers may have a point in that Jolly likely could have benefited from being around his colleagues, but the totality of the blame lies with Jolly and his choices.
In addition to Rodgers, several other Packers teammates and coaches have spoken well of Jolly. They all acknowledge that he has a problem, but the general consensus is always that he’s a “good guy.” Since his release, Jolly has spoken openly about his addiction. He’s said all the right things about his need to take responsibility, and appears to be on the right track. That’s great for Jolly. I hope he’s getting the help he needs. I hope he is able to get back into football and have a great career.
But not with the Packers.
Jolly, unfortunately, has not shown that he can be responsible and mature in his decision-making. While I hope his friends and teammates are there for him personally, it’s quite another thing to ask the organization to take a financial risk on guy who, frankly, has used up his chances in Green Bay.