Losing all of his options

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: July 17, 2010

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MILWAUKEE (BASN) — Something tells me that the NFL didn’t give equal justice to Green Bay defensive end Johnny Jolly.

The league went overboard in Jolly’s case. Late Friday, they suspended him without pay for the 2010 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Jolly can apply to the league for reinstatement after next year’s Super Bowl.

I’ve heard of four-game suspensions all the time for players using banned substances, but not an indefinite suspension for substance abuse that’s pending in court.

The NFL released this statement: “Johnny Jolly of the Green Bay Packers has been suspended indefinitely without pay for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.”

What the statement didn’t say was what offense Jolly violated. He wasn’t nabbed for taking substances, knowing at any time he can be drug-tested.

On page 20 of the 2009 NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, a portion of it said: “Players convicted of or admitting to a violation of law (including, within the context of a diversionary program, deferred adjudication, disposition of supervision, or similar arrangement including but not limited) relating to use, possession acquisition, sale, or distribution of substances of abuse other than alcohol, or conspiring to do so, are subject to appropriate discipline as determined by the Commissioner.”

Roger Goodell came down hard on Jolly, and he was notified in writing by the league.

A team statement was released through general manager Ted Thompson: “Johnny is a good player that loves everything about the game of football. 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 Packers’ statement sounds like a death at a funeral to me. They called it a “league matter.”

I said in April on the “Batchelor Pad” show with L.A. Batchelor on Blog Talk Radio after the draft that Green Bay drafted Purdue’s Mike Neal, a defensive end, in the second round, in case Jolly wasn’t allowed to play this upcoming season.

Jolly was an unsigned restricted free agent in the offseason.

The Packers put pressure on Jolly to sign a tender offer, or he would lose 110 percent of his 2009 salary. He signed the offer sheet the Packers sent in Houston.

He’s under court order to remain there and abide by a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. Jolly can’t be around anywhere in a drug or alcohol setting. He has a court trial on July 30, the day before the mandatory check-in for training camp.

In 2008, he was arrested after a traffic stop in Houston of possessing more than 200 grams of codeine. Prosecutors are trying to tack on more drug charges because they believed Jolly participated in the drug trade from 2006 through May 2008.

According to prosecutors, Jolly bought, sold, transported and funded illegal narcotics in Harris County, where Houston is located. Jolly could face two to 20 years in jail if he’s convicted.

Now Jolly stands alone. He’ll get a new sense of who his real friends are. He should check his bank account to see if he has enough money to get by. Being away from football will give Jolly better life options.

Another team could give the 27-year-old another shot, being that he just completed his fourth season with the Packers and started every game last season. It’s not clear if the Packers will terminate their contract to Jolly.

They own the rights to him. In Jolly’s darkest moments, he’ll do some soul-searching to determine if he’s a changed man a year from now.