At his most optimistic, even Johnny Jolly can’t expect his attempted comeback to get a third as much coverage as that of Jamarcus Russell or Tim Tebow. Right or wrong, welcome back into the quarterback's league that is the NFL; they get the attention, everyone else sort of does.
While he’ll struggle to get the kind of press-love of these two polarizing former stars, his return to this league would be no less worthy of the recognition. Tebow and Russell didn’t warrant their first-round selections, but somebody saw enough to justify them regardless. It’s always been an uphill battle for Jolly.
In case you haven’t heard of Johnny Jolly, or his eventual exile from the NFL, it’s a tale with no shortage of self-inflicted misery. The former sixth-round draft choice, out of Texas A&M, had clawed his way into relevance with the Packers, before multiple drug-related arrests brought an abrupt end to his once so promising NFL career.
The arrests started with a criminal charge of possession of Codeine in the summer of 2008. Charges that Jolly eventually would plead guilty to. This was followed up with another possession charge in March of 2010 and to make matters worse, he was also hit with a charge for tampering with evidence. By July of 2010 Jolly was suspended indefinitely by the league - only six months after arguably his best season as a member of the Packers. Over a year later in November of 2011, Jolly was sentenced to six years of hard-time.
A once so promising career, derailed by codeine. The often glorified subject of rap songs, so frequently used in Jolly’s home state of Texas that it’s earned the nickname “Texas Tea”, had taken it’s first career-casualty in the NFL. Or so it seemed.
Flash-forward only six months after beginning to serve his six-year sentence, and Jolly is getting released on “shock-probation”. For those of you wondering what “shock-probation” is, it’s early release on the grounds that you’ve been severely affected by the harsh realities of prison time.
Now, little over a year after his release on shock-probation and only months away from the 2013 season, Jolly is reinstated in the NFL and as per his Twitter account, going to be at Packers minicamp.
Is it realistic to expect this comeback to come to fruition? Doubt it. Is it worth following? Absolutely.
While playing on the defensive line isn’t the most technical of tasks, spending three years away from the game might be enough to make anyone forget whatever intricacies come along with it. The timing, footwork and hand-positioning of Jolly will be interesting to monitor - and by interesting, I mean more than likely brutal.
I don’t think anybody knows what to expect from Jolly, just what they want to see: the redeemed athlete’s return to form. It’s not likely to happen, but count me as one of the hopeful fools that wants it to.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV