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Free, Sober Johnny Jolly Applies for Reinstatement to NFL

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Free, Sober Johnny Jolly Applies for Reinstatement to NFL

Free from a Texas prison, Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly is sober and ready to get back into the National Football League.

According to Brad Biggs of the National Football Post, Jolly has applied for reinstatement from the indefinite suspension handed down to him by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in 2010.

I know that the NFL doesn’t need me. I need it way more than it needs me. I really want to be a part of it and I am hoping to go back and show that I am a good reliable citizen that the league and others can depend on and trust.

Jolly was suspended by Goodell after a string of arrests related to the possession of the drug codeine, which is used in the recreational mix known as "purple drank." His latest arrest in 2011 landed him in a Texas jail on a six-year sentence, but last month Jolly was released early after successfully applying for "shock probation."

According to Jolly, he's just seven pounds over his former playing weight of 325 pounds.

“I’m in pretty good shape,” Jolly told Biggs. “I would like to lose about 10 pounds. I’m probably at 332 right now, about seven pounds over my playing weight. I feel good. I am strong. My wind is up. I’m healthy and my body feels great.”

He's also been sober for eight months, according to Biggs.

Whether the Packers would welcome a sober Jolly back is anyone's guess. As ESPN's Kevin Seifert explained, the Packers own Jolly's contract and would have the opportunity to retain him if Goodell decided to reinstate the defensive lineman for the 2012 season.

At just 29 years old, Jolly still has years left in his legs. The Packers have also been very active in upgrading their defensive line this offseason, and you could argue that Jolly was the team's best down lineman during 2009, his last season with the team.

But Jolly also hasn't played football in two years and still represents a major risk from multiple angles if brought back.

Jolly thinks the Packers would give him another chance.

“I think they would,” Jolly said. “I am dedicated to really make a change in my life and come back and be a positive role model. I think I have a great shot at going back to those guys. They’re a great organization. The coaches are very good, the players are good. I know they have supported me 100 percent."

Returning to the Packers would take a move from Goodell, however, who first needs to reinstate Jolly back into the NFL. That may be a long shot considering his long track record, but other players—Michael Vick, for example—have been given second chances by the commissioner.

In the end, all Jolly wants the opportunity.

“I just hope I can get a chance."

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

Zach - Why would Jolly "represent a major risk" if brought back?

I'd see it as a low risk, high reward type of situation. The Packers wouldn't be counting on him for anything. If he is able to regain his form, great. If not, they'd just cut him. Though I don't know what his contract situation is like - I assume if they brought him back they'd renegotiate to a incentive-laden deal with a base around the minimum.

And I'd welcome him back with open arms. Nothing like sitting in a jail cell for a few months to help get some prospective and motivation.

PackersRS's picture


Jolly wasn't much help against the pass (though he did have a knack for batting passes), but with him and Pickett, teams could not move our DL in the run game.

FourEyesBrewing's picture

At 325 lbs., he could take Raji's spot at NT in the base 3-4 and let Raji play in the nickle and dime subpackages. Oh, there I go again, daydreaming and spitting out crazy "What if..." scenarios.

Zach Kruse's picture

Maybe "major risk" was too strong of wording. But the Packers would look downright foolish if they brought Jolly back and he was caught with codeine (or any substance) again. It's a headache the Packers don't have to risk...That said, I'm not against the Packers giving him a workout. No risk in that.

Evan's picture

Hmmm...I don't think I agree. I don't think they'd look foolish if he got caught again. I think it'd be unfortunate, obviously, but I don't think it would paint the Packers in a negative light, necessarily.

If anything I think the Packers would be seen as charitable and benevolent to give a him another chance, regardless of the outcome. If he got caught again I feel like the narrative would be "Well, the Packers did everything they could for him..."

But maybe I'm being naive?

mark's picture

I agree Evan.

Evan's picture

I do agree that it would be a headache they don't need, though.

Evan's picture


FourEyesBrewing's picture

I agree, it's intriguing to say the least, although I can't say I remember his style of play or what his strengths were. Being in a good locker room full of guys who support him, especially Driver and his past with drugs, would be great for Jolly. I just worry that returning to the same environment might trigger his addiction again. Player safety, y'all.

Evan's picture

From what I remember, he got into trouble when he went home (Houston, I think?)

I think having the structure and support of a team would only be good for him and his recovery.

Brooklyn81's picture

Let him compete for a roster spot

CSS's picture

"At just 29 years old, Jolly still has years left in his legs....."

I'm not picking on this statement, just trying to imagine Ted Thompson saying any of the above to himself.

As to Jolly, I hope he gets into a camp someplace, even in the CFL. He's the type of guy that needs structure and something on the horizon to work towards. Without it, he may struggle.

Tarynfor12's picture

The Packers are moving on without him...let him stay in the rearview mirror and don't look back.
He can stick his thumb out and hitch a ride elsewhere.

Brooklyn81's picture

I honestly would hate to see him anywhere in the NFC north and turn out to be good they all have good fronts and he would definitely add prolly it and prolly have a chip on his shoulder against us

redlights's picture

I'd be good to go with letting him compete for a spot. the huge risk is putting him on the 53 man roster, and then if he goes back to Houston and gets in trouble, we've taken a roster spot and valuable practice reps from a different lineman.

Driver was in the locker room every year that Jolly was on the roster; why would we think this is different. As someone alluded to, the key is to keep him out of Houston.

treff26's picture

He's payed his debt to society. If he gets reinstated, let him compete. If he can still play they get him on the cheap as mentioned above. Last chance and no B/S.

calipackfan's picture

If they do get him back the packers will start to get a raider like image with Hargrove, Merling, Mike Neal and Jolly. Our D line will be thugy this year.

FourEyesBrewing's picture

When I think of Raji doing his dance, "thug" is the last term that comes to mind. He's the anti-thug.

Evan's picture

Also, how is Neal a thug?

And what's Merling's story?

PackersRS's picture

You know, Fitz is right to an extent. The "Packer People" mantra is a lie. It certainly doesn't mean what some fans think it means.

If a suspension, regardless of the cause, grants you a "thug" monicker, "Packer People" is doing more bad than good.

Then it's criteria is so absurdly restrictive that only those who give 100% every practice, don't make game-costing mistakes, don't appear on the news in any negative way, donate 20% of their income to charity and attend church every sunday can fit in.

Neal lists Joel Ostheen as his favorite author, btw. He might be a thug after all. (reflawar in 3, 2...)

WIrussianlife's picture

LOLz. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!? Mike Neal is NOT a thug. He has a drug violation with Adderall. He's freaky focused, like he injures himself from working too hard. The guy is a overworking-class type. The type that can be great if he can temper himself a bit with a better pace. And don't forget. Jolly never had problems in GB, just in TX. Also dont forget Pickett, the granfather lineman that has every1 over for dinner a lot. That man is humble veteran leadership and offers strong community. Jolly would be a fine addition.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

If Rog gives the OK, Hell yes you bring him in and give him a look. Why the Hell not? I mean since I've single handedly crushed the myth of "Packer People" (you're welcome), the only thing we need on our 53 are good football players. Jolly 'was' a good football player and it would behoove our team to give him a look to see if he still 'is' a good football player. Easy as that, now go tackle somebody and win me a championship.


Lars's picture

Jolly isn't coming back to Green Bay any more than is Justin Harrell. I doubt, after 3 full seasons of inactivity, he has anything left, anyway.

Houston would be the ideal scenario for JJ, anyway. Close to home and where he wants to be all year.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

I would think Jolly should stay as far away from Houston as possible. That would be ideal if we're talking about his best interests.

And yeah, he won't probably be back, but I'm on record saying I'm all for it.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Two full seasons BTW.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture
TXCheese's picture

Being from Texas, I've followed a baseball player caught up in drugs more than once, that turned it around...maybe someone has heard of him. Josh Hamilton ring a bell anyone? When you get a talented individual that knows he has no more chances, the results can be amazing. Bring him back and see what he can do.

Evan's picture

Apt comparison.

Josh's picture

Except that guy has gone back on drugs 3 or 4 times since his major league career started

Mojo's picture

I make a big distinction between harming someone else and harming yourself. Jolly probably caused an amount of distress to his mother - else the only one he f'd over was himself. Therefore, if there was mutual interest and Jolly was not suspended anymore, it wouldn't bother me if the Pack took a peek under the hood.

If the Pack did consider taking him back, he has to know this is it. There are no more f'-up's, no other chances, at least with GB.

mark's picture

I'm in favor as well. I'm skeptical about his ability being away from the game for so long, but sure, why not let him compete? I see zero risk here.

PadLevel's picture

Jolly has been extremely durable for a lineman (started all games in 2008 and 2009 seasons). So I am all for bringing him in for a workout. Hope that happens before Training camp starts - we don't need to waste any of coaching personnel's time when there is serious work at hand!

markinmontana's picture

This is a tough call, because Jolly's previous string of f-ups happened when he was still an untreated addict. Now that he's sought some help, there are no guarantees but I think he deserves a chance. TT and MM will know how the rest of the team would respond to Jolly being back, and that should probably be the deciding factor. The biggest risk would be if he establishes himself in the DL rotation, then has a relapse mid-season and screws up the continuity.

Josh's picture


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