The Green Bay Packers Would Be Foolish to Release Johnny Jolly

Nicholas KashianContributor IIJune 8, 2010

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 18: Johnny Jolly #97 of the Green Bay Packers participates in warm-ups before a game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on October 18, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 26-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly faces a bit of legal uncertainty at the moment, facing charges of possessing at least 200 milligrams of codeine stemming from a July 2008 incident in which he was approached by members of a Houston gang unit in the parking lot of a nightclub which is allegedly notorious for drug and gang activity.  

As of late, there has been increased chatter about the idea that the Packers should cut ties with arguably their most productive lineman in 2009.  The reasoning offered for this move boils down to the fact that some Packers insiders and many fans don't believe Jolly to be "Packer people."  

This argument is ludicrous.  Jolly was obviously in the wrong place at the wrong time wi th the wrong people, and he certainly displayed poor judgement for a man with so much to lose.  But to my knowledge, this is not a crime.  In my estimation Jolly will be acquitted of the charges, if his trial ever begins; it is scheduled to begin July 30 after being postponed a fourth time.

If the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him they would have gone to trial by now.  Their constant posturing in the media shows just how weak their circumstantial case against Jolly is.  They are now resorting to getting multiple felons to attempt to tarnish Jolly's image by leaking stories of alleged past misdeeds on the part of Jolly.  

In 2009 Jolly was perhaps the Packers most productive defensive lineman on the field .  He finished the season with 39 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one interception, and 10 passes defensed.  The interception came on a very impressive athletic play for a 6-3, 325 pound man and he nearly had another one later in the year.  With Jolly in 2010, the Packers defensive line could be dominatingwithout him they might be ordinary.  He is a key part of a deep rotation that will likely include B.J. Raji , Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, the rookies Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson, and hopefully a healthy Justin Harrell.    

Jolly is too important to the Packer's defense to simply release because he is accused of a crime, which by all accounts is victimless.  When linebacker Nick Barnett was accused of assaulting a woman in a bar a few years back, should the Packers simply have released him, before they found out that he was not guilty of the charges of which he was accused?  No, that would have been about as foolish as releasing Jolly.