The Green Bay Packers just announced that Johnny Jolly has been suspended “indefinitely” by the NFL, with the defensive end “eligible to apply for reinstatement following Super Bowl XLV.”
Jolly, a restricted free agent who had signed his first-round tender of $2.521 million just before the mandatory minicamp, was arrested on July 8, 2008, for felony possession of codeine. His frequently delayed trial is set to begin on July 30, the day the Packers report for training camp.
With the announcement by the NFL of Jolly’s violation of the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, the Packers left no doubt that Jolly’s future with the team is tenuous, at best. The restricted tenders do not include guaranteed money, so the Packers can sever their ties with no financial ramifications.
(Clarification: The league source that told me this said this would be true in the case of injury. In the case of a drug suspension, the Packers are probably stuck. Clarification No. 2: Fox Sports NFL insider Adam Caplan said Jolly has been put on the suspended list but the Packers do not have to pay him the $2.521 million. So, for all intents and purposes, they're off the hook for the contract but retain his rights.)
“Johnny is a good player that loves everything about the game of football,” general manager Ted Thompson said in a release to reporters. “We appreciate the contributions he has made to the Packers the past four seasons. His focus and priorities now lie elsewhere – our thoughts are with him during this difficult personal time.”
The team said it would offer no further comments.
That Jolly broke the substance-abuse policy and not the personal-conduct policy signals that he might have failed a drug test or tests. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello could not elaborate due to "confidentiality provisions of the policy."
Jolly's agent, Brian Overstreet, did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.
Even with the arrest and legal problems hanging over his head, Jolly was coming off of his best season as a pro. Playing with incredible passion throughout the season, he was an anchor on a run defense that ranked No. 1 in the league for the first time in the 90-year history of the franchise.
“Johnny Jolly, when you put the no-pads on, you just don’t say ‘Wow!’ He’s one of those guys, when you put the pads on, you feel his strength when guys come on him,” defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said during the minicamp.
The Packers planned ahead for this news by drafting Purdue’s Mike Neal in the second round and East Carolina’s C.J. Wilson in the seventh round.
Jolly was arrested 105 weeks ago for the alleged possession of at least 200 grams of codeine while hanging out with friends outside a notorious club in his hometown of Houston. Jolly faces between two and 20 years in prison if convicted, but as a first-time offender, there’s a good chance he’d be given probation.
A Green Bay pharmacist said that much codeine would last someone battling pain at least a year to consume. The upper ends of what a pharmacist would prescribe would be a dosage including 60 milligrams of codeine. Assuming the codeine Jolly allegedly possessed was exactly 200 grams, that would equate to 3,333 doses of the maximum 60 milligrams.
The Packers haven’t had a player convicted of a felony since Mossy Cade in 1987.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.