Johnny Jolly is grateful for a lot of things these days, including the chance to earn a spot on the Packers roster after serving a three-year NFL suspension for drug issues.
But the Packers defensive lineman gave a special shout-out to Packers fans for their support.
“Man, the Packers fans are awesome,” said Jolly on Sunday in the locker room. “Through the social network, those guys, they are relentless with the tweets, telling me how much they’re praying for me and things like that, and that’s a boost every day when you see someone saying stuff like that. I’ve been seeing a lot of (No. 97) jerseys. It’s amazing to come from where I came from to be back in this position to see the love that I’m getting from Pack fans, and I love them back. It’s just amazing.”
My column today (http://pck.rs/13fWdS0) focused on the transformation of Jolly from jail time to practice time. Here is more from Jolly on his transition back to football:
On getting mentally ready to play football: “When you’ve been through what I’ve been through there’s nothing mentally , you just got to come out here and do what you’re supposed to do. And keep that mindset every day.”
On support from teammates: “It’s excellent man, all these guys are like brothers to me, it’s all one big family.”
On the heated exchanges between offensive and defensive players on Sunday: “It was just practice, it gets a little heated, we apologized. That was on the field, that’s all it was. We’re moving on to the next day.”
On his chances of making the team: “Basically I’m going to keep doing what I do, practice hard, work hard. I’m one of 90. I’m going to keep pushing to be here for the season.”
On returning to dorm life during camp: “It’s good, we got bigger beds now, so it’s pretty cool. ...We had the longer beds, now we got the wider beds, so it’s all good.”
On if he got tired during the first full-pads practice: “Not really. I’m hustling downfield, trying to get myself in better position. That’s a part of practice.”
On what he has to prove: “I’m just working hard. I’m doing whatever the coaches ask me, pursuit to the ball, playing my technique the right way. As long as I keep doing that, everything will fall in place.”
On first-round pick and fellow defensive lineman Datone Jones: “He’s looking good. He’s a good guy. He’s so fast it’s not even funny.”
On what he’s struggling with on the field: “Basically focusing on blocks that the offensive line gives us, things like that. It all comes together with repetition. So I’m going to keep getting my reps and keep working on it and it will all work out for me.
“The footwork is there because in the offseason we worked on that a lot, so that’s pretty much there.”
On his strength compared to before his suspension: “I’m pretty strong. It’s all working itself out. My hands and my feet are coming together, and we’re in the weight room every day, so everything is clicking at the same time.”
On how he’s a changed man: “Mentally, physically, I try to do things the right way now. I don’t double think myself, if I do it this way. I just try to focus on doing it the right way. It won’t have to be done again.”
On why he gained so much weight when he was suspended: “To be honest I can’t even really speak on that. I mean, throughout three years of not doing really too much, what else would you expect. It was, I guess, eating the wrong foods.”
On the bad influences in Houston leading to his bad habits, including weight loss: “It’s not an excuse for that. I was suspended and didn’t know when I was coming back, I was just, I had to do other things outside my life than deal with football at the time so once I got that straight I was able to work out.”
On watching the Packers win the Super Bowl: “I (saw) the Super Bowl. It’s tough. I mean, it’s tough. You miss something you know you’re supposed to be a part of, it’s tough so, had to deal with it. That’s over with, we’re moving forward. Time to get us a ring this year.”
On if football doesn’t work out: “I’ve got to live my life. Might go back to school, finish, get a degree, just continue living my life. My faith is right here in football so I’m just going to deal with it like that. Play it how it comes.”
On people that helped turn his life around: “My mother, John Lucas, there’s so many people I can’t even name them all, but there’s been a lot of people, the man above.”
On giving advice to others based on his difficult experiences: “I (will) be willing to talk to kids. Kind of off track right now, because I know what it is to be off track, I know what it is to be on track, and sometime you need that person in your ear, go let you know the good advice, and you know has been down that road and to tell you, ‘Hey, that’s wrong, that’s right.’ You’d be amazed at how much that helped. If I would have opened my mouth and said something to some of my teammates or coaches back then, I probably wouldn’t be in the position that I am, but God put me through it and it made me a better person.”
On bad influences in Houston leading to his downfall: “At the time I felt like that, but it’s all about where my mindset was, and my mindset was stuck in the things that was going on in Houston instead of being here. So now it’s just like I can block it out, I can tune it out.”