While Johnny Jolly hasn’t returned to the field yet — and might not have anything left when he does — one thing so far is certain.
The Packers are fully supporting their former defensive tackle, who is attempting to come back after three years out of the game because of drug arrests and suspensions.
He hasn’t been on the field with the team during OTAs, but to a man, they’ve supported his efforts to make it back.
“I think our society is built on second chances,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, via Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com. “Think how many times you look through the history of successful individuals that probably or maybe wouldn’t have happened without a second chance.
“Every case is different. There’s no absolute right way and wrong way when you evaluate every situation. I’m glad to see Johnny Jolly going through the process that he’s going through. [I’m] very proud of where he is to this point. But he still has a lot in front of him.”
McCarthy wouldn’t say why Jolly hasn’t rejoined the team, referring only to going through “the process.” But the Packers have stood by him, sending two team officials to his rehab graduation, and staying in contact with him as much as the rules allow.
“Not so much ever thinking he’d ever come back here. That was not my intent of it,” defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said. “Johnny’s such a good guy, and sometimes good guys get in a bad way, and I just care about him as a person. That’s why I stayed in contact with him as much as I was allowed to.
“There were times when I wasn’t actually allowed to contact him based on the rules, him being [suspended]. I was in contact with his mother and stuff like that. If I broke a rule, I didn’t try to. I tried to stay within all the rules. But I just care about him as a person.”
That relationship likely means the Packers will try to give him a chance. But at 30 years old, and three years out of the game, they also need to be realistic about those chances. That said, their willingness to back a guy who might not be able to help them on the field might be the biggest statement they can make.