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Suspended Packer Jolly discusses destructive codeine addiction

From a distance, it's just another story of a professional athlete riding off the rails.

Moving closer, Johnny Jolly's destructive struggle with codeine is a fight more grim than his beloved Packers will ever wage on the field.

Green Bay's suspended defensive lineman, jailed last month after his third drug arrest in three years, has come clean about the addiction that's obscured any hopes for an NFL comeback.

"My only friend was the codeine," Jolly told ESPN's "Outside the Lines," in an episode set to air this week.

A stark low point arrived in February, with Jolly watching the Packers' Super Bowl victory alone in an otherwise silent room.

"I didn't want to be around anyone," he said. "I didn't want to answer no questions. And so I stayed in the room -- just drunk -- and watched."

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers noted last month that Jolly has suffered away from the day-to-day structure of NFL life, and the lineman acknowledged his codeine use would amp up when he dwelled on his stalled playing career.

"Daily. Every time I even thought about the game coming on, that was the only time I could make it through the day," he said, tears welling up. "It hurt me not to watch, too. ... Me losing football was like losing a loved one."

Jolly's parents were both crack addicts, and his mother, 20 years sober, believes her son can find a way out through rehabilitation, as she did.

As much as Jolly misses the game, the battle he fights today clearly is more important to his family and friends than anything that will happen on a football field.

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