With the news that Johnny Jolly is reapplying for reinstatement with the NFL after being released from prison, potentially returning to the Packers, the debate over Jolly’s future has started.

Jolly is staying clean, so far, helped by a 12 step program and frequent drug tests, but it’s early days yet. One hopes that for his own future, period, he stays clean. But the thought of him returning to the Packers is tempting. To me, Jolly is a nice young man with a huge problem. If he can contain and deal with his problem, and add to the Packer’s defense that surely needed a boost last year, it would be great to see him play again.

That’s where I’ve seen the biggest debate. There are two schools of thought here- one, that the NFL is the worst thing that could come (back) into Johnny’s life,leading back to the Purple Drank and two, that returning to football (with a lot of help and support to stay sober from the organization) would be a good thing for him.

Jolly, obviously, wants to return and I can see why. Playing football is what he knows how to do (and well) and it’s lucrative. He’s still young and seems to be in reasonably good shape. It makes sense he would want to go back to doing what he loved.

The argument against him coming back is that the NFL, with its indulgence to players and the lack of reality in which a lot of players live would be detrimental to a young man who has, admittedly, had his share of problems and so far not been successful in containing his addiction. Additionally, there is a lot of pain associated with being an NFL player, just comes with the territory, and with that the need for painkillers. Since Johnny’s problem is with opiates, this is a reasonable concern.

My opinion has been that it doesn’t matter what Jolly’s profession is, ultimately, to his ongoing recovery, but I hesitated to speak up on the subject. So I was pleased to hear Former NBA player Chris Herron, who has famously battled addiction and has been sober for four years, say today regarding Jolly’s return, “if Johnny Jolly was a fireman, would he be allowed back to fight fires…that’s his profession…” The NFL in and of itself, he felt, was not the overriding issue.

Exactly. Johnny Jolly is a football player. He deserves to be allowed back into football. What he did, in my opinion, is nowhere near as bad as Michael Vick, and I see him running around on the field. We don’t know if he can return to his previous form, but to me he should be allowed the opportunity.

Obviously no one can say for sure how well he can deal with the pressures of the NFL should he return. As Chris also noted, the idea of how he will deal with pain will have to be closely monitored by the coaching and medical staff. Whichever team ends up with him (which is a separate debate, whether the Packers should keep him or not) is going to have to provide a supportive environment and structure for him. One example of the Packers doing this was with Koren Robinson, and from everything I read, they did a fine job of doing what they could to help him deal with what is a daily battle.

Ultimately, where Johnny Jolly ends up ends up doing for a living isn’t what will or will not cause him to slide back into addiction. What’s going to make him a success or a failure is Johnny Jolly.

I wish him the best, and I hope it’s in the NFL.


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  • http://www.dicksfavoriteblog.com Richard Chang

    I hope they reinstate him. I’m glad he didn’t have to serve a lot (subjective) of jail time. Purple drank just isn’t a big deal as far as I’m concerned.

    • Colleen

      While his conviction isn’t a reason to keep him from trying to play football, it is illegal and he has to stay stopped. I hope he can.

  • http://www.pocketdoppler.com BigSnakeMan

    Packers management has always been concerned about Jolly’s ‘associations’ down in Houston. If he’s serious about a comeback, he needs to extricate himself from that environment.

    • Colleen

      I would hope one caveat of allowing him to return is that the Packers would make it clear he can’t spend time in Houston.