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Johnny Jolly: Former Packer's Tale Evidence That Purple Drank Is No Joke

GREEN BAY, WI - CIRCA 2010: In this photo provided by the NFL, Johnny Jolly of the Green Bay Packers poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2011

Johnny Jolly has been sentenced to six years of prison after violating his parole due to possession of codeine syrup, or as it is known on the streets, "purple drank."

I used to think this "purple drank" was a joke. My buddies and I even had a running gag, that anytime JaMarcus Russell's name was mentioned in conversation, someone else would quickly interject with, "I want that purple stuff."

We thought it was funny. But purple drank is no joke.

Russell was charged with possession of codeine syrup in July of 2010. That syrup is often mixed with alcohol, Sprite, Mountain Dew or jolly ranchers, and it is often referenced in hip-hop culture.

But with the news last year of Russell's use of the concoction, and Jolly's six-year prison term, it is time more awareness is raised about the pitfalls of this substance. From a USATODAY article after Russell's arrest last year:

"Nothing good comes from ('purple drank')," said Jim Muntz, a physician and a clinical professor of medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine who works for the Houston Texans, along with the Astros and Rockets. "If you're on (codeine) for more than three or four weeks, there is an abstinence syndrome. If you stop, you become jittery, anxious, experience mood swings and can have seizures."

[Greg] Aiello said illegal use of codeine in pro football, "is something we're aware of and monitoring, (but) we don't see evidence of a particular problem among NFL players."

But it is a growing problem, Mr. Aiello.

"It needs to be on the radar of the NFL because you can see it now seeping into professional athletics," [Marcellus] Wiley said. "You used to need a microscope to 'see' it—now it's visible to the naked eye. It is creeping into more of the casual conversation (as it) becomes more prevalent."

Wiley said that last year. Then Jolly was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in 2010, and this October he violated his parole. Addiction isn't a joke, either.

It's time the hip-hop culture stopped glorifying the use of the drug. And it's time we started paying more attention to the dangers of that purple stuff.

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