Johnny Jolly earned the love last night.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph
The much-maligned Green Bay Packers defensive tackle is back and last night, even at age 30 and three years removed from the game of professional football, he showed the world how and why he has turned his life around.
We all know his story. The lifestyle. The addiction. The suspensions. The jail sentence. The recovery. The comeback.
While his comeback is not yet official, he took a huge step toward it last night when his play on the field stood out and his teammates and fans showered him with love.
When he zoned in on that bouncing ball and nabbed it out of the air for an interception last night and then proceeded to charge back upfield, eluding one tackle with an Eddie Lacy-esque spin move, we all stood and shouted.
How could you not be happy for the guy? His blood, his sweat, his transformation all came to be in that single play.
And because of it, the accolades showered down upon him. The TV people named him the player of the game, the highlight reels burned up in overtime replaying the moment, and Twitter exploded with tributes.
We all got in the act immediately … and it hasn’t stopped. Thousands of tweets were sent his way.
You’ve got to see some of them. I’ve compiled a cross-section of the shout-outs for your reading pleasure. While you’re reading, remember that the Packers still have two-plus weeks of training camp and some tough cuts ahead.
At this moment, it seems Jolly is a lock. He’s still got the proverbial mountain to climb to make the team, but he took a huge step toward that goal last night.
Here are some of the tweets sent his way (and a couple of his responses). The tweets are from oldest to newest.