One of the amazing things about life is the opportunity for second chances.
That is what Johnny Jolly is hoping to get this season-another chance to prove he can still play professional football. And a chance to prove he has changed his life forever.
Jolly is far removed from where he left off his playing career following the 2009 season, a season which saw him finish with one sack, one interception, and a knack for knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage.
And that is where his story begins to change.
Even as he pleaded with the judge, “I want to go to rehab to get help” his fate had been sealed.
He was a felon. Multiple arrests on his rap sheet, jail time on the horizon.
The spacious Packers locker room Jolly previously roamed had been replaced by a 6×8 jail cell. A $2.5 million salary traded for an orange jumpsuit, a life of promise replaced with regret.
While his former teammates waged their battles on the playing field, including a victory in Super Bowl XLV, Jolly waged his own battles against drug demons, hoping for another chance. Somehow, someway.
A short period of time after entering prison, Jolly’s path toward a second chance began.
Released from jail after six months after convincing a judge he had turned his life around after spending time in prison in May 2012, Jolly’s second chance to be in society was underway. Still under probation for ten years, he had been freed from the cell he had spent time, but still had much to prove before being able to pave a way back to the National Football League.
His second chance at a professional career began in March.
Reinstated back into the NFL in February, his path back to the NFL had been set. Despite being out of football for almost four years, Jolly has received the opportunity to show everyone that he deserves the chances he has received.
One question which some might have been asking is whether Jolly had truly learned from his mistakes, and was actually going to strive to make sure these errors were not repeated.
We found out just how serious he is about changing his life forever today.
Chris Roth, Sports Director for WBAY in Green Bay, tweeted the following update on Jolly about this second chance:
This is huge in proving to everyone that mistakes in the past have been learned, and Jolly is doing everything he can to take advantage of this opportunity.
Of course, this does not mean that Jolly will automatically be a part of the 2013 Packers. He is 30 years old, and has been out of football for almost four years. He will have to show a lot to beat out the incumbents on the roster, and show that he can contribute as a player.
Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. Jolly is expected back with the Packers on May 28 and may not be able to show the flash he did four seasons ago. His football career may be over before it is barely able to begin again. But one thing has already happened that no one-especially Johnny Jolly-should forget: that second chances do not always happen, and when they come around, one should embrace it with relish.
Second chances are part of life. Everyone has done something in their life that they later regret. It is not always possible to erase the pain which often surrounds these poor decisions. When a second chance does come around, the individual needs to grab it and take advantage of it. That is what Johnny Jolly is in the process of doing. His second chance at life began when he was released from prison. His second chance at football officially begins on May 28, 2013. And he has one person who will be watching very intently hoping for the very best for him.
John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com and co-host of Cheesehead Radio. To contact John follow him on Twitter @jrehor or email firstname.lastname@example.org