The Packers are a no-nonsense franchise. A team that stays away from the medias vicious circle. An organization intolerant of petty and irrelevant issues. Not that you needed reminding of any of that.
Yep, Green Bay were the clean-cut, snobby team of the NFL.
At least that was the case up until this past week.
Two individuals in particular have thrown a spanner into Titletown's humble world lately: Johnny Jolly and Brandon Underwood. It's no surprise, really. The two don't exactly scream model citizens when they walk down the street. But how did the Packers seemingly miss this issue when it first arose?
Clearly, second chances are for the lucky.
In the Packers' defense, though, they have done just about everything right when it comes to handling this situation. The players haven't combined into one giant ball of rage and tossed it toward anyone willing to listen. Nor have the coaching staff caused a scene and stormed off their separate ways like spoiled toddlers.
Still, it's been a seven-day period to forget for Green Bay, one best described as downright disappointing—especially for a team that has led by example for the past 40 years.
Knowing where to start with this situation is difficult. There's been enough legal talk to fill a successful crime novel, while still keeping in entertaining at the same time. I guess it's appropriate to start with Johnny Jolly, though.
Yes, Jolly dropped the ball again this week. Five days ago he was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, codeine, and was also said to be driving a car with a suspended license. There's a role model you should tell your sons all about.
Just kidding. Please, don't.
Realistically, any football fan with half a brain could predict this happening. It's deja vu. We played this game with Jolly in June of 2008. He led us through the loops, we jumped, and yet again he has come out looking the ultimate fool in the end.
So what's the alternative to this debacle?
I wouldn't blame if you if you've totally lost interest in this situation. It's become almost laughable, just like Barry Bonds' endless saga that now sees him mimicking O.J. Simpson's love/hate relationship for court rooms and the US judicial system.
But beneath all of the controversy and loose ends, the simple solution to this whole mess is straightforward and relatively painless: release Jolly, and send him packing.
The Packers would be smart to make this move as soon as possible. The NFL may be locked out on indefinite vacation right now, but that didn't stop Roger Goodell from waving his power wand last time. The league suspended Jolly for the 2010 season. And with any attempt at rehab useless, why entertain a problem player by leading him on as each day passes?
The NFL doesn't need their own version of Charlie Sheen.
Some fans might not like it. Those are the same fans who smiled when a guy like Pacman Jones returned to the league, only to slide further down the scale of failed second chance athletes, and flirt with the idea of professional wrestling.
Give me a break.
Perhaps the one striking concern with releasing Jolly, however, is the fact that he does have talent. He isn't a player who is one in a million. He isn't a "diamond in the rough," either. But he was once a key defensive end for the Packers, and it would be unfair to forget all of that.
Releasing him leaves his future open to manipulators. The Dallas Cowboys will prey. So will the New York Greenbacks (Jets), as they try and snap up another controversial athlete who isn't named Antonio Cromartie.
It's a shame Jolly wasn't a part of the Super Bowl team. In a way he was, mentally. But a lot more was thrown away in 2008 than just his reputation. A great career, a promising future, and a maybe, just maybe, a Hall of Fame chance.
But then there's Brandon Underwood, a player who is one in a million.
Turns out Underwood isn't done just yet. News broke yesterday that two women who accused Underwood of assault were charged with prostitution—if that doesn't add some spirit into your day, I don't know what will.
Jolly may have been talented, Underwood on the other hand, never really took off. Zero interceptions and just 15 tackles to his name last year were expected. And although Green Bay may be short on cornerbacks in the future, Underwood isn't likely to receive a hardy promotion in the next few months.
Just release Underwood, too?
He is young, so he is possibly valuable to Green Bay. But an accusation of assault is serious. Ted Thompson surely doesn't like it. And we can all assume what Mark Murphy thinks of the situation as well.
The fact that Underwood attended a gentleman's club is one thing. The fact that he participated in prostitution, another. All up, it affects the culture of Green Bay, something head coach Mike McCarthy touched base on.
“You don’t want to be a paper champion,” McCarthy said during weekly meetings. “History tells you over and over again, you start building your team and you focus on what it looks like on a piece of paper, that’s a big mistake in my view.”
That same piece of paper now has a red line through Jolly and Underwood. It should, anyway.
One man is in a Houston jail cell until tomorrow. The other is facing a long line of legal charges. Scrutiny is also a very likely side dish. What happened to the days of the straight arrow Green Bay Packers we used to know?
The league changed. Vince Lombardi moved on. Now we have players who wish to be celebrities, rather than athletes. Welcome to the big leagues, gentlemen.
Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers is still running for the cover of Madden 12.
At least some Packer players still have their priorities right.
Check out Ryan Cook's new blog: The Front Page.
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