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Friday, September 6, 2013 5:08:40 AM(UTC)
JASON WILDE said:
GREEN BAY – The concept seemed to require more than a two-word explanation, to be bigger than one person. But for Aaron Rodgers, it was so simple.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback had just been asked about something he’d said repeatedly throughout training camp: That he liked the vibe of this year’s team, that he liked the feeling he got whenever he walked into the locker room this spring and summer. He had talked previously about the youth on the roster, about a hunger that he felt had been absent last season, about an edgier attitude that he believed had been lacking for awhile.
But instead of expounding on those thoughts when asked the question – Can you articulate exactly why you feel so good about this team? – Rodgers answered with the name of the person he believes personifies everything he’s been talking about.
“Johnny,” Rodgers replied, “Jolly.”
He offered nothing more, as if his answer was completely sufficient. Because in his mind, it was.
“No,” Rodgers said, seemingly annoyed that the listener might not believe him. “In all seriousness, that's a big part of it.”
John Lucas was not surprised in the least when told of Rodgers’ answer. The former NBA star and coach, who battled cocaine addiction and alcoholism in his own life before becoming a counselor himself, runs The Right Step rehabilitation clinic in Houston and has worked with a number of troubled athletes, including now-Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Matthieu after the Honey Badger ran afoul at LSU.
It was Jolly’s mother who reached out to Lucas as her son tried to put his life back together after receiving what would end up being a three-year suspension from the NFL for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. It wasn’t a quick fix, but it was a vital part of the process.
Asked why he felt compelled to go to Thompson to plead Jolly’s case to him, Rodgers initially wouldn’t say. Then, he relented.
“I just feel like the more Johnny Jolly's you can have, guys who are genuinely passionate about football … you can't have enough guys who really love playing football,” Rodgers said. “For the common fan, you'd be thinking, 'What? There's people out there that don't love football?' It's surprising to me too. But you just can't have enough guys who really just love the game.
“Bringing Jolly back, you see how much it means to him. And it's infectious.”
Friday, September 6, 2013 7:28:06 AM(UTC)
I love it. I hope Jolly's success story plays out to a lifetime of dreams fulfilled. Each day clean, alone, for him is a success. Add to it the game he plays, and his presence on this team, building redemption with every play, every day, every game. Pretty cool stuff.
Friday, September 6, 2013 7:59:40 AM(UTC)
A great story...let's hope it has a great ending for him and the team.
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