Defensive lineman Johnny Jolly earned a diploma for finishing a court-ordered drug treatment program in Houston on Wednesday and can now return to the practice field for the Green Bay Packers, reports Chris Roth of WBAY Action 2 Sports in Green Bay.
Completion of the program was the last item on Jolly's checklist before he could officially return to the NFL. He will, according to the report, join the Packers for next week's organized team activities after being out of the league since 2009. Though Jolly was reinstated by the NFL in February, he could not return to the Packers until wrapping up this treatment program.
Jolly was first suspended by the NFL in 2010 while awaiting trial after being arrested for codeine possession in 2008. A few more arrests later, also on codeine-related charges, and Jolly was sentenced to six years in jail. He was granted an early release in May of 2012.
Here's what Jolly had to say, from the report, upon the end of a long road back to the NFL:
"I don't know anyone who sat out three years and was able to go back to the same team. I met with the Packers a couple of weeks ago. They understand my situation and they are willing to be there for me, so I'm just doing everything I can to be in shape and do everything I need to do for my team. They have been there, and I'm going up there to do my best to show them what they want to see this year. So I'll be doing everything in my power to get ready."
Prior to his legal issues, Jolly was an integral part of the Packers' defensive line rotation. He compiled 113 combined tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception, as well as 17 passes defensed in Green Bay from 2006-09.