The Green Bay Packers head into the 2010 NFL season with high hopes. They finished last season with a record of 11-5 only to lose in their opening game of the playoffs against Arizona. Now, they look to the upcoming season posed to make a serious run at the playoffs once again and possibly even the Super Bowl.
This task might be a little tougher after learning that defensive end Johnny Jolly has been suspended by the NFL for the 2010 season without pay for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Jolly’s suspension takes place immediately and will continue for the remainder of the season. He will however be able to apply for reinstatement following the Super Bowl.
Jolly was a key component in Dom Caper’s 3-4 scheme that allowed a league low 83.3 yards rushing per game. He was previously arrested outside a club for drug charges in Houston in July of 2008. Jolly was charged with possession of 200 grams of codeine and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
“Johnny is a good player that loves everything about the game of football,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement. “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.”
Jolly was a six-round draft pick in 2006 and his strong play landed him in a starting role the past two seasons. As a restricted free agent, he signed before an offseason deadline that would have granted the team to reduce the amount of its tender offer. However, Jolly was excused from the Packers minicamp in June by head coach Mike McCarthy to deal with his off-field situation.
With Jolly facing a serious trial that could drastically affect the rest of his life, he found more trouble in May after flyers appeared advertising a party he allegedly hosted at a Houston nightclub. A judge then place much tougher restrictions on his bond. He ordered Jolly to submit a hair sample for more drug testing, commit to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. curfew, be evaluated by a drug counselor and was ordered not to attend “clubs or any other establishment where drugs or alcohol are used.”
Jolly was initially arrested on July 8, 2008 after 1 a.m. in a parking lot of a Houston nightclub known for drug and gun use. The charges were dropped in July 2009 so lab technicians could become proficient with a new piece of equipment that measures codeine, but he was reindicted in December 2009.
“There’s a lot going on, and he needs to focus and make sure he has everything in line,” McCarthy said last month. “These decisions that are going to be made legally will affect every aspect of his life, most importantly his personal life and then his professional life.”
The Packers, knowing that they could possibly be without the services of Jolly this season, used a second-round draft pick to select defensive lineman Mike Neal out of Purdue as they make a run for Super Bowl XLV in 2011. NFL sportsbooks have Green Bay’s odds set at 14/1 to win the Super Bowl this season.