Green Bay Packer Johnny Jolly Suspended: A Blessing in Disguise? All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly was suspended by the NFL “indefinitely” today.  He will not be eligible for reinstatement until after the 2010 season. All this two weeks before he stands trial on  felony drug charges.  My first reaction was that the NFL knows something we don’t. And now, news is leaking out that Jolly was suspended for violating the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy.  As far as what do the Packers do now, I say no worries…

Talk about timing; the subject of Johnny Jolly was debated last night on CheeseheadRadio.  The following debate subject was posed:

The Packers should just release Johnny Jolly now and eliminate the distraction.

I took the “Pro” (touchdown)  stance and here was my statement.

Until last year, I always considered Johnny Jolly an underachiever. As if by magic, playing for his next contract, Jolly turns into a wild man. He’s blocking passes, making diving one-handed interceptions, he blocks a field goal – seemed like he was everywhere. Until we get towards the end of the season, when the big guy got a bit tired and he went back into coasting mode. Of course, that was when it mattered the most to the team. So which Johnny Jolly is the one you’re going to get? Personally, I want to see the Packers with more athletic defensive linemen, and hey, what a coincidence, they just drafted two! While it’s a bit of a gamble, I say let the Jolly Rancher go stand trial in Texas without an NFL contract. Maybe then he’ll appreciate it more…

Now, I can’t say that if I was in Ted Thompson’s shoes I would have had the balls to just cut a useful player like Jolly,  but my sentiment was forthright. I’d rather not have that distraction looming over the team, so if he were to go, I could live with it. Of course, never did I expect him to be gone the next day.

So now I stand by my point that Jolly being gone might be a blessing in disguise. I’m really excited about Packer draft picks Mike Neal and CJ Wilson and welcome them having the opportunity to develop and get some fill-in playing time. In college, they have shown the ability to push the pocket and get in the quarterback’s face, something the Packers sorely lacked last year.

If Mike Neal and CJ Wilson are NFL-caliber players, then what has just happened is all for the best.


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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for


45 thoughts on “Green Bay Packer Johnny Jolly Suspended: A Blessing in Disguise?

  1. More bodies are always better in camp, but this whole thing probably happened at just the right time. Jolly put himself, (and what pisses me off most), the Packers into a really bad spot. Thompson covered the Packers well with his picks, and that may be the saving grace.

    This may very well be the end of a very promising player’s career. His sparatic play was concerning, but when he brought it, he was a play maker. I only hope Justin H can be healthy and contribute. This changes the looks of the line, but again the timing is pretty good.

    You can NOT save a roster spot for this guy, that spot is too valuable.

    1. Imaging facing a felony drug trial and still getting caught taking drugs. Stupidity I don’t want on my team. Just glad it got done now…

  2. Said on the blog for the show last night that you can’t release Jolly…yet.

    Its sad, almost pathetic to see an NFL career ruined by something like this. But the Packers have been planning for it by drafting his replacement (we assume) for the last few years. Neal, Wilson, Wynn, Talley, and especially Raji all need to grow up a little sooner now. And do not discount Harrell-especially now.

    The worst part: he won’t be around to see the run this team is expected to make this year. Although the team doesn’t need a distraction like this.

    Glad it happened before the season started.

    1. I have little sympathy for him missing a good season by the Packers. he was a lot more interested in himself than team. Goodbye Jolly rancher!

  3. AL,the point that you bring up with Jolly’s play is akin to FA.My contract is coming and I’ll play all out and then “SPLAT”afterwards.Although I would not let him go just based on that as he was already ours and not a FA per se.

    For me the heavy toil on my mind,if TT or MM, would be”is he a one time (ahem)MISTAKE guy(I hate using that word)and learnable.I would venture NO!I cannot fathom or come remotely close to understanding how ANYONE gets the opportunity of Colledge and the NFL and just simply can’t move up from what keeps their brethren down and use it as an ability to get others out.Instead hangs out in it let he never left.

    He will be a repeat offender and is best to cut ties now and not waste the chance for the rookies to play and help the team and more importantly perhaps help those less fortunate from which they came.

    I may to some,come across hard nosed or arrogant and a little ignorant,but I don’t feel anybody is higher than anybody when it comes to right and wrong.When people squander opportunity by KNOWINGLY doing wrong,a punishment MUST be ascessed and PAID just as the less opportuned ARE and DO.

    1. Well, if not for the uncapped year, Jolly would have been an unrestricted free agent this season, so he was, in fact playing for a contract last season.

      The rookies seem to be really good guys, so I’d rather see them get the chance over Jolly.

  4. Nothing wrong at looking at the opportunity in a problem because it often reveals the truth.

    Realistically, the DL isn’t in a very different position than they were last year at this time– except there is no player with a trial looming. They have 3 solid starters (Raji could realistically take on Jolly’s production), a solid back-up (though Neal has no real experience), and two lower caliber depth players.

    It really makes me think “what if” though. With Jolly they really have fantastic depth on the DL- maybe what it took to really put this Defense over the edge. Without him, they are in real trouble if one starter goes down. Sure, you could say the same about similar positions, but this one is more of a D’Oh moment because it could have been prevented

    1. Depth is the key, because I don’t thing jolly was going to start at any position this year. So now someone else has to provide the depth. If Neal or Wilson aren’t ready, expect TT to pick someone up after teams make their final camp cuts…

  5. In the back of our minds, we all knew this was possible, I was thinking more in the lines of a few games. If we are injury free, we should be ok, but what does it matter at this point, Johnny put the Packers in this situation.

    Good luck, sianara.

  6. Jolly IMHO wasn’t a capable starter, specially in sub packages, as he brought ZERO to the table as far as pass rush.

    Now, he provided more than solid depth. I wouldn’t have cut him, and nor will I if keeping him doesn’t count against the roster.

    As far as the distraction goes, he’s not a distraction for the team, because the team wasn’t depending on him. Where’s the distraction? I don’t get it, Al…

    1. having one of your players standing trial for felony drug charges while you’re trying to focus on other things in training camp? The media will be asking questions about Jolly every day, to boot.

      Did you listen in last night?

      1. I can’t see that as a distraction. Cmon man. Favre was in a rehab center in the 96 offseason, for crying out loud… The Favre situation, even last year, was a distraction. When a core player is in this kind of situation, is a distraction. One or two questions about a player that isn’t playing every week and isn’t a key cog is irrelevant…

  7. Packers RS,
    Really,where is the distraction?You honestly feel conversation during camp,D-Line drills,play adaptions,water cooler talk or any of the many things that surround a good camp, this is not nor should be a distraction?

    The packers weren’t DEPENDENT on him?If so why was he on the team and why wasn’t he let go months ago or as soon as the incident was public.

    NFL teams as a whole,or players independently are unable to wear blinders as much as they try to assert such a thing in the media.

    To use a STAR WARS analogy,”you form a symbian circle(attached)what effects one most assuredly effects the others”.Even cutting free of it,you will feel the pangs and angst of doing so.

    1. So he’s cut and all talks immediately disappear? If they’re talking about him in DL drills and watercoolers, it’s because he’s a friend, not just a teammate. Be him cut or not, the talks won’t stop.

      And it’s not like the press is gonna ask every week about him…

  8. Do you people actually think that having Jolly on the roster will affect our production? That it’ll cost us games?

    And do you think that, the moment we cut him, the people in GB won’t think about his situation the same way they would if he were suspended, but with the team?

    1. Goodell has been cleaning up the shield of the NFL.As in all discipline plans you must increase the punitive actions to achieve the goal.
      The fans must start accepting that when players do not abide by rules,simply waving a hand, “it was an mistake” will not be accepted.
      I want players who understand the NFL and what it affords them,not those who feel they may do as they wish because they play in the NFL.

  9. If I can throw in a random comment, I don’t think this impacts the team that much. Jolly gets a lot of press for his 11 pass deflections, and for being part of the No. 1 rushing defense, but he provided no pass-rush. He was impossible to move last year because he’s humongous, but I don’t think that made him good.

    As to his legal situation, I can’t support the league here. Suspending a man even if he wasn’t convicted is one thing, ala Big Ben, but suspending him before he even goes to trial is quite another. I can’t wait for the explanatory statement from Goodell.
    The only thing I can think of is that he wants to make an example of anyone even suspected of trafficking in codeine.

    1. Andy, he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy (which means he probably failed a drug test). That’s what the suspension was for, not anything to do with the trial…

  10. Whether or not his absence affects wins and losses and production will be determined by the effectiveness of his replacement(s). I’m curious as to whether this will mean more reps for Raji at DE in camp and the preseason. In my mind, that will be the early measure of the effectiveness of his replacement. I think they probably want Raji to play NT more, but if Raji is better than Jolly’s replacement, they will be forced to use BJ at End. If we never see him at DE, I will have to think that Jolly’s replacement is going to be quite effective.

    Remember, 34 DEs primarily need to be fundamentally sound by being in good position and occupying blockers. Yes, the Capers 34 thrives if the DEs can actually get upfield, but I think we will be fine if his replacement can just be fundamentally sound. Playmaking is icing on the cake for a 34 DE.

    Aside from all this, Jolly is an idiot. If this is purely from the Substance Abuse Policy, he probably failed at least 2, and likely 3 drug tests.

    1. I don’t think you’ll see Raji at 3-4DE much at all. But remember, with all their packages Capers plays, many times there are only two or one DLs in the game. So I don’t think this will affect Raji’s use as a 3-4 NT much

      1. That’s right…somebody this offseason wrote that Pickett was going to be playing some DE this year, too, which I forgot about until somebody reminded me yesterday. So now I don’t think we will see Raji at End. I have to think the move of Pickett was done with knowledge of the Jolly situation in mind.

        1. Actually, it’s not just that Pickett would be seeing some time at DE, it’s an official position move. He, Raji and Jenkins were going to be the starters anyway.

  11. Said this on Twitter but also wanted to put this on the site: I reread your post. Thank goodness the blogosphere has a voice of reason like you sir.

    I read my first response, then all of the others, and the justification you give in each of your responses. Just excellent analysis Al. i speak for many by saying huge thanks for what you do every single post, tweet, comment, or radio show.

  12. The only people who see this as a blessing is Minnesota as they’ll be looking to add another (former) Packer unto their team, after all, its no secret that their getting a bit long in the long at D.T.

    That’s only if the Packers cut him though…

      1. I’m sorry…but that’s hilarious!

        How much did this improve Harrell’s chance of making the roster?

        1. no need to be sorry…

          Harrell’s chances really depend on only one thing – his back. If he’s healthy, he’s on the roster…

  13. To paraphrase Tony Soprano, “To me he’s dead.” The guy had a chance to make his life comfortable forever. Now it’s gone and will never be recovered. One full year without being related to the Criminal Charges says he did somehing very, very stupid. No matter what you think of Goodell, even he’s not that arbitrary on a first offense.

    Much better to happen now and get it out of the way. This gives the young guys a slot to shoot for. As someone else said above, maybe we get another CM3 out of this. Glass half full! I’ll drink to that.

    Harrell has to go into camp with the pedal to the metal from day 1. Coasting along to avoid injury will tell me it’s all over for him. To earn a spot he has to prove he can cut it.

  14. This also allows TT to concentrate on Jenkins contract this year without having to worry about Jolly’s as well.

    1. In my book, Jolly was going to be allowed to walk next season, but now it’s a no-brainer. Lockup Jenkins and bye-bye Jolly Rancher.

  15. I agree with Jersey Al. Jolly is a joke. He practically lost the game for the Packers with his personal foul after the play against the Vikes. He learned absolutely nothing from it as he pulled the same thing later vs. the Cowboys and never got caught. The guy is a thug and a backup thug at that. Let’s just praise TT for his foresight in drafting Mike Neal and CJ!! He took a lot of heat for not drafting an OLB or CB…and he knew more than any of us. He got depth for the DE position which we can see now is needed greatly.

  16. Jolly was given a strike when he entered the league as a rookie for substance abuse as he tested positive for marijuana at the combine. WHILE HE WAS ON PROBATION he sent out flyers about a party at his house that had his picture on it…and he wasn’t even allowed to drink alchohol at the time. This guy is stupid. This IS a blessing for the Packers. They weren’t going to be able to keep Jenkins AND Jolly. They can sign Jenkins and then let Jolly come back as a BARGAIN if they think they want to take the risk. Regardless I am excited for these two young players. Don’t forget about Jarius Wynn either.

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