November 17, 2011
Back in October, I wrote briefly about the abbreviated football career and ongoing criminal career of former Green Bay Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly(notes). Now both have come to an end, but his career in the prison laundry is just beginning.
Jolly was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison for violating his probation.
It's a terribly sad story, but not one that's unfamiliar. Jolly could not shake the death grip of addiction. His vice was codeine, which got him into trouble with the law and the league. He told ESPN that when the NFL suspended him for one year, he lost control. He described codeine as his only friend because it kept him numb.
It brings up a lot of questions about the NFL's punitive drug policies. When a player has a problem, is it really in that player's best interests to keep that player out of the game for one year? Or is that something the NFL does for its own public relations interests?
I don't know the answer (or if there is one), and certainly, Jolly's problems are 100 percent the responsibility of Johnny Jolly. If he'd been able to get and stay clean, he'd be wearing a Super Bowl ring right now, instead of a prison-issued jumpsuit.
So that'll be it for Johnny Jolly's football career, which promised to be a good one. He had Pro Bowl-level ability. But it doesn't have to be the end for Johnny Jolly the person. Hopefully he can still get himself clean and, in time, figure out how to do something positive with his life.
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