The regular season doesn’t start for another two months, but the Packers have already suffered a significant loss. The NFL on Friday suspended Johnny Jolly indefinitely for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The veteran defensive end will not play in 2010. The exact cause of the lengthy suspension is not yet known. What is known, however, is that stopping opposing offenses has just gotten more difficult.
Jolly wasn’t always the most disciplined player in the world, but his unique blend of size, strength and athleticism made him extremely difficult to handle at the point of attack. And while the former Texas A&M star offered little as a pass rusher, he was as good as anyone at batting balls down at the line of scrimmage. He also brought a tremendous amount of unbridled enthusiasm to the huddle – something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Ryan Pickett will likely open the season as Jolly’s replacement, but you can bet the coaches are keeping their fingers crossed that either oft-injured veteran Justin Harrell or one of the rookies emerge during camp. That’s because Pickett simply isn’t built to play outside in a 3-4. The proud veteran won’t embarrass himself at the position, but the end result will probably be very similar to what B.J. Raji provided last season.
So what’s Jolly’s future with the Packers? Here’s the statement issued by GM Ted Thompson following the league’s announcement:
“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.”
Our take? Thanks and best of luck, but you ain’t coming back here. And it’s too bad. Jolly is a very solid player and an excellent teammate who likely derailed a promising and lucrative professional career due to outright stupidity. He isn’t the first athlete to do that, and unfortunately, he won’t be the last.