According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the doctors of former Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly have given him the medical clearance to resume his football career.
I’m not writing this because I think Jolly will be back with the Packers or even to suggest that the Packers look into evaluating and clearing him. Jolly’s story last season carried with it a tale of redemption and hope. While his performance was anything but stellar, he was a good addition to the team and proved worthy of a roster spot.
Jolly received encouragement from his doctors earlier this year when the surgery was performed and a portion of his hip bone was grafted to help fuse his spine. At that time, all Jolly could do was wait and see how it healed and if doctors would be confident enough to allow him to play football again.
Today, at least part of that wait is over. Jolly’s clearance by his doctors is the first step to his potential return to the NFL and a sign that the procedure was a success, at least from a medical standpoint.
However, before any team would sign Jolly, their doctors also have to medically clear him. Being cleared by his own doctors is one thing. Being cleared by a team doctor is another and especially if we’re talking about the conservative medical staff in Green Bay.
Packers fans are unfortunately all too familiar with the process a player goes through with a serious neck injury. We have seen some good and great former Packers players not return to the game following a neck injury. The same players who if healthy, would have multiple suitors for their services and at a healthy rate of pay. Former safety Nick Collins being a prime example.
Former Packers tight end Jermichael Finley is also still waiting for a team to medically clear him so he can resume his professional career. As much as these men offer as players, teams remain cautious about the potential risks associated with a return to this very physical sport following such a serious injury.
As far as the Packers are concerned, the meaning of this news about Jolly today is about nothing more than being happy for a former team member. As I mentioned earlier, the Packers have seen way more than their fair share of neck injuries to past players and to hear about one that may heal enough to return to the gridiron is welcome news on its own merit.
Assuming that Jolly were to be medically cleared, it would likely take an injury to prompt the Packers to bring him in for evaluation. He’s over 30 and there are always big question marks about how a player’s game changes after a serious injury. There’s an outside chance, but at this point, it’s not likely.
No other interest in Jolly from around the NFL has been reported to this point.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: