Notebook: Jolly Gets Probation

Plus, a few other not-draft nuggets, including a schedule dilemma and the 'Madden Curse' — or maybe it's just a coincidence — was avoided.

Former Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly was spared prison time on Thursday when a judge in his hometown of Houston gave him five years probation after Jolly pleaded guilty to narcotics charges.

Jolly, 28, was arrested March 25 for possession of liquid codeine and had been incarcerated in Houston until his hearing Thursday.

State District Judge Denise Bradley agreed to put Jolly on deferred adjudication, which is similar to probation but Jolly won't be formally convicted if he successfully completes the five years of probation. If Jolly violates the terms in those five years, he could be sentenced to a maximum 20 years in prison.

He also was fined $500 and must perform 240 hours of community service.

As part of the plea agreement, Jolly will receive drug treatment for 90 days at a Houston rehabilitation facility owned by former NBA player and coach John Lucas. Jolly is expected to enter the facility Monday.

Jolly also was arrested in Houston in 2008 for possession of codeine. The NFL later suspended him for the 2010 season because of a violation of its substance-abuse policy.

Jolly applied for reinstatement with the league office after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, but a decision hadn't been rendered before the lockout started a month later.

It's unclear whether Jolly's latest legal woes will keep him from being reinstated. His time in Green Bay apparently is up, however, because he's not listed on the Packers' offseason roster.

The Packers selected Jolly in the sixth round of the 2006 draft out of Texas A&M. He was a full-time starter in 2008 and '09.

Preseason conflict

The Packers could be faced with a scheduling dilemma for their first preseason home game, which has been set for Friday night, Aug. 19, against the Arizona Cardinals. The 7 p.m. local start time will go head to head with the opening night of high school football in Wisconsin.

When Bob Harlan was the team president in 2006, he was compelled to move up the start time of a Friday preseason game against the Tennessee Titans from 7 p.m. to 3 p.m. so as not to disrupt the tradition of Friday night high school football in the state.

The Packers had previously played home preseason contests at the same time as Friday night high school games.

"It wasn't smart, and we never want to do that again," Harlan said in 2006.

There's been no indication from the Packers whether President Mark Murphy, who replaced a retired Harlan in 2008, will ask the league to switch the start time or date of the Aug. 19 game.

No cursing

Packers backers took a collective sigh of relief after quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the MVP of Super Bowl XLV, lost to Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis in the semifinals of online voting to determine which player will appear on the cover of EA Sports' "Madden NFL 12" video game.

Hillis won the matchup with Rodgers in a landslide, receiving 61 percent of the nearly 550,000 votes.

"I think it definitely would have been cool (to be on the cover). It was a game I played as a kid," Rodgers told ESPN Cleveland in a radio interview April 20. "I know there were a lot of Green Bay fans, I think, who were voting against me because they believe in the so-called Madden curse."

Call it a curse or coincidence, but the likes of Eddie Georgie (2001 cover), Daunte Culpepper (2002), Michael Vick (2004), Donovan McNabb (2006) and Shaun Alexander (2007) have seen their careers derailed by declining play or injuries on the year after being put on the cover.

Medical watch

Thompson said Thursday his knowledge of the progress being made by the myriad players who ended last season on injured reserve was "not very much."

The only team official allowed to have contact with players during the lockout is team doctor Pat McKenzie, who is able to examine the injured players who are in Green Bay and monitor their progress.

Defensive end Mike Neal, who sustained a torn rotator cuff in October, is fully recovered and has been working out vigorously since early March. He has been lifting weights and doing conditioning work with offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and tight end Tom Crabtree at a speed-training facility in Green Bay owned by former NFL receiver Don Beebe.

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