Packers News: Johnny Jolly to be reinstated by NFL

Packers DL Johnny Jolly
Packers DL Johnny Jolly
Packers DL Johnny Jolly

Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly has been reinstated by the league following a three-year suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Jolly was released from prison in May after serving six months of a six-year sentence on drug charges. After avoiding jail time following a similar charge in 2008, Jolly was arrested in October of 2011 and charged with possession of a narcotic compound containing codeine, which is a felony. He was already suspended by the NFL at the time of his arrest.

Jolly hasn’t played football since 2009, but the Packers could opt to bring him back to camp and compete for a roster spot. He was a restricted free agent at the time of his suspension, so Green Bay still holds his rights at the $2.5-million tender he received in 2010.

After being a two-year starter at Texas A&M, Jolly was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He played four seasons with the Packers prior to being suspended.

Brian Carriveau of Cheesehead TV tweeted a picture of Jolly’s reinstatement letter, which the defensive end posted on Instagram. His article ran before other media outlets ran with the story, and the news became public.

Pete Dougherty, of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, confirmed the story on Wednesday evening via Twitter.

Before his suspension, Jolly was a solid starter for the Packers. His last season, 2009, was likely his best as a professional, in which he recorded a one sack and the only interception of his career off Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Now 30 years old, Jolly faces tough odds to return to football shape.

Green Bay has reportedly shown interest in signing 49ers defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois and Giants defensive end Chris Canty. With the availability of Jerel Worthy for 2013 up in the air, the Packers may be in the market for multiple defensive linemen, and there’s certainly a possibility that Jolly would be given a chance to make the roster.



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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


37 thoughts on “Packers News: Johnny Jolly to be reinstated by NFL

  1. If I’m Ted Thompson I would be “oh what the hell, let’s just resign him and see what happens”.

    1. Isn’t there still time on his contract that was frozen upon suspension?

      I think the Packers still technically have him, and I’m sure they’ll put him to the test before making any final roster decisions.

      1. If that’s the case then If I’m Ted Thompson I would be “oh what the hell, let’s not just cut him and see what happens”.

      2. He’s on the 2.5M tender contract. If the Packers bring him back and give him a shot, they would likely release him and then resign him to a vets min contract. I have said repeatedly the Packers need a Jolly type run stuffer. Hope they give him a shot to regains some kinda NFL career. Hope more than anything he’s gotten his demons/drugs behind him. By all accounts he’s a good guy who grew up in the wrong side of town in a terrible environment..

          1. Yeah, he kept all his friends from the “hood” and let them influence him. He was always a good lockerroom guy from what I remember reading too.

          2. There was a JSO article written years ago in which more than various Packers players referred to Jolly as a “jerk”, “idiot”, and “he just doesn’t get it.”

            I know coaches and team mates vouched for him after the scandal, saying things like “he’s just a guy who loves football” and that his wrong-side-of-the-tracks Houston friends from the old neighborhood were keeping a good man down, but there were many comments about Jolly being a total ass-clown coming from that locker room prior, which leads me to believe the Packers players and coaches were just sticking up for their team mate somewhat.

            Either way, I don’t care, he’s not a violent criminal, he’s an addict, and I get that. But I don’t think we can really buy into the PR that he’s just misunderstood or a great stand up guy. He was an idiot. Hope he’s turned it around.

            Get him restructured and give him a shot. I think the NFL did Jolly a huge disservice by keeping him suspended for that long. Jolly NEEDS football to get his life in order. I understand the NFL made an example out of him because Codeine abuse was getting RAMPANT across the NFL, but it’s really a shame. Jolly screwed it up all on his own, but the NFL could have helped him put it back together again a lot sooner.

            1. Can you site any of those “various articles” written. I read everything I can about the Packers and other than being a guy that grew up in one of the worst environments, he was always highly regarded by teammates. The organization always had concerns about him going back to Houston in the offseason, cuz of the crew he ran with, but Jolly was well liked, a good guy and a good lockerroom presence. Not a leader per se, but just a guy that kept the lockerroom loose until gameday.

              1. 1) I’ll try my best to find it

                2) I don’t just make stuff up. I’ve got a pretty good track record 😉

              2. Already found one by Greg Bedard that contains this brief passage: “Jolly was far from well-paid – as a sixth-round pick in ’06, he received a four-year, $1.705 million contract from the Packers, which included a modest signing bonus of $94,600 – but it didn’t stop him from acting, according to one teammate, as if he was “big money.”

                Jolly’s on-field disposition also raised eyebrows.

                After the arrest, most figured Jolly would keep a low profile upon his return to the Packers. But in training camp a month later, Jolly got into several skirmishes with teammates. Once, he took off his pads and motioned as if he wanted to fight the entire offensive line.

                “The guy is just a jerk, plain and simple,” a teammate said after the incident.

                Jolly later laughed off his behavior.

                “We’re just having fun,” he said.

                The way he carried himself and his conduct led the Packers to question how Jolly would handle being given a contract extension, a source said. The Packers held the same concerns about Corey Williams, another defensive lineman. He was traded in ’08 by the Packers and given his big contract by the Cleveland Browns.

                Jolly declined to answer questions for this story, even those not relating to his case.

                “You don’t have (any) football questions for me?” he asked. “Do you have anything with football? If not, we can end this.”

                Most teammates had no problem with Jolly and even respected how he conducted himself around the team.

                But as a person who moved easily among different kinds of people – be it his coaches or the fellas back home – there was always a question among those who knew Jolly whether his mysterious personal life, past and present, might hurt his professional life.”


                Most of the article IS complementary, but I’ve seen other instances where Jolly has been referred to as a dick. by team mates. I’ll see if I can’t find them for you, but it isn’t easy to sift through articles from 5 years ago to find a needle in the haystack

    2. My feeling is that the Packers don’t cut him outright and bring him in to see what’s happening since his suspension. If he’s looks like he’s in good shape then keep him on the 80 man roster at least.

      1. Absolutely check this guy out. First, there’s no downside. Second, it’s pretty low risk if you really think about it. Where is JJ going to score his purple drank on the Green Bay’s mean streets. And third, and most important, I think JJ could re-define the word hungry and go out and play his (big)butt off.

  2. Packers will surely release him and offer to bring him back on a Vet’s minimum contract. Unlikely another team would sign him to anything better than that…

  3. Heard many good things about him lately. Seems to have straightened out and is definetely worth a try. Absolutely nothing to loose for the Packers.

  4. He’s been gone for over 2 years! No football activities. TT may bring him in for a look, but Jolly is in the past.

  5. we can use him in BiG D even if he 80% of what he was!So could about 8 other teams for that matter.

  6. Bring him in. Clearly he’s on the right path if he’s gotten back to this point. Jolly’s a football player so I’m sure he can come back and play some decent ball. I don’t see what it could hurt, especially with that defense.

    1. I hope the Packers give him a chance to show that he can play and can keep out of trouble. But not at $2.5M.

  7. He was the most under rated starter when he played, he held the point better than any DE they have had since, once he got his hands on you he had you, he set records for knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage, and he has a mean streak (ala 49er and Seahawk defenders – really lacking in Green Bay). In addition he was well liked in the locker room and had no issues in Green Bay off the field, if he can get in shape, Thompson has “found money”.

    1. Totally agree Lou. With all this talk about the D being soft, Jolly was one guy that couldn’t be accused of that.

      I’ll take a unsportsmanlike once in a while as long as it isn’t too boneheaded..

    2. Totally agree. Jolly brings a toughness and physicality that the Packers are lacking. Why I always maintained we needed a big run stuffing DL not another pass rusher on DL.

      1. I gotta agree with all of the above, the Pack has nothing to lose by giving him a shot, and Jolly was good when he was there. Hard to say what 3 years off did to him, maybe saved some wear and tear, but likely also cost him some reaction time and instincts. Give him a shot I say, if he’s 3/4 what he once was it might be better than some of the guys they have!

    3. See my comment above, there actually were plenty of rumblings about Jolly being a total Douchebag coming out of the locker room..

      1. I call bullshit! Give us some evidence of these “various articles”. It they were out there you shouldn’t have any trouble finding them!

      2. I think anyone that has played organized sports would have some teammates that he didn’t get along with…in my experience, the some of the better players are the biggest douchebags.

        I get what your saying chemistry is important

        1. I’m not saying the Packers shouldn’t give Jolly a shot.

          All I’m saying is I just don’t think he was a choir boy who just happened to have an addiction problem.

  8. I am concerned that no one else sees that this situation is wrong. He broke the law, went to jail and now has been reinstated to a potentially well paid job. Yes, he made a mistake. Yes, he “did his time”. Let’s just say that you are not an NFL player and go to jail or prison for the same exact charges. You get out, and what are the chances of getting your old job back? If you are a person who holds certain licenses, such as an insurance agent, you are stripped of that license and can NEVER hold one again. This is a fact. Did the insurance agent who became addicted to prescription drugs make a “worse” choice than Jolly and other players who have been reinstated by the NFL? No. It should be the same across the board. I don’t know Jolly. He may have changed his life completely and is now ready to be a upstanding citizen, giving to others, and making good choices, I cannot comment on that. I am all for giving second chances, but this “chance” seems to be more like “we’re sweeping your past under the carpet..all is forgiven.we’ve stopped time for you, and here’s some money”… I am from Green Bay, and I personally hope that Jolly is sent home to find another livelyhood.

    1. Life isn’t fair. I say this to my kids all the time.

      The fact of the matter is that Jolly is not an insurance agent and comparing the two is of little use. The NFL has chosen to give most of their players second, and even third chances. Perhaps you could lobby the state insuance regulator to adopt the policies of the NFL..?

      1. Absolutely. Life isn’t fair. I was using the insurance agent as an example. It could just as easily have been a teacher, a police officer, your best friend, your brother, your neighbor. Comparing the two is completely of use. We are talking about someone who broke the law, is a convicted felon, and has the opportunity to go back to life prior to his arrest and jailtime. Amazing. What message is this sending to our youth? Hey, it’s okay to break laws if you are a big all important football player, they will just hold your job while you detox and do your time. Then when you get out, you can go right back to the golden life again. However, if you are a postman, a fireman, a teacher, a police officer, you will not be hired ANYWHERE. Even WalMart will not hire you if you have a felony on your records. Maybe I am just one little voice, one individual person who thinks that this is wrong. I have a voice, and no matter how small, I am not afraid to stand up and call this exactly what it is. This. Is. Wrong.

        1. post script… I also told my daughter that life isn’t fair. She was also taught that wrong is wrong, and to call it by it’s rightful name, regardless of popular public opinion.

        2. The point is remains that Jolly is not an insurance agent, teacher, or work at Walmart. The rules the NFL has in place are different than those folks.

          You seem to have 2 arguments and correct me if I’m wrong. 1) The government should never allow such leniency for convicted felons. and 2) No employer should ever hire a convicted felon.

          Jolly’s livelihood is professional football. If no employer should EVER be allowed to hire a convicted felon, you are going to have a lot of trouble rehabilitating our millions of convicted felons.

          You seem to have a lot of problems with the money Jolly makes. Do you not want to see him have another chance because of that?

          In any case, the message to our children is that if you make a mistake, you can still have another chance if you turn your life around…which is like you said you agree can have a second chance.

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