Koren Robinson can return to Packers practice immediately
Robinson actually learned that he would get back into the league on Sunday. He had been working out in Phoenix and attended the Cardinals game. Goodell was at the game as well, and the two met in a small room below University of Phoenix Stadium.
"He said he was going to reinstate me, and that he wanted me to be successful -- as a football player and as a man," Robinson said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. "And I assured him I would be. It was just a great Sunday, a great feeling to put in the work and be rewarded for it."
Robinson was suspended a year ago for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Wednesday was the first day he was eligible to return, and after reviewing Robinson's petition for reinstatement and talking with the league's drug counselor, Goodell granted Robinson's request to return to the NFL.
"I'm glad I get an opportunity to redeem myself," Robinson said Wednesday night in a conference call from Houston, while traveling to see his family before heading to Green Bay.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson said the league informed them Robinson has been reinstated, effective Thursday.
"It's been a year since we've seen Koren, so our first step is to have him return to Green Bay," Thompson said in a statement. "The Packers will request a roster exemption, during which time we would see where Koren is at in terms of football shape."
Robinson's suspension came in the wake of an incident in August 2006 while he was playing for the Minnesota Vikings.
Police said Robinson led them on a car chase at speeds over 100 mph, and his blood-alcohol content was found to be 0.11 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08. The Vikings cut Robinson, and he signed a two-year deal with the Packers in September.
However, he played in only four games before he was suspended.
In February, Robinson was sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading down to a charge of fleeing police. Robinson also was sentenced to three months in jail for violating probation on a separate drunken-driving case in Kirkland, Wash., last year.
The Packers will be given a roster exemption for Robinson until they decide when he should come onto the active roster. Teammates have been awaiting his return.
"We are aware how difficult this past year has been for Koren, but the Packers are grateful for the progress he's made, as evidenced by this reinstatement," Thompson said.
Robinson said he takes a daily pill that deters him from drinking by making him sick if he has alcohol, and he has his liver enzymes checked regularly by doctors.
"It's a safety blanket for me," Robinson said. "I use it like a vitamin. I don't have any qualms about it."
Robinson faces a lifetime ban if he violates the league's substance abuse policy again.
"I know this is my last chance," he said. "If I do anything to jeopardize that, I didn't deserve it in the first place."
Quarterback Brett Favre said last Wednesday after talking to Robinson by phone that he believes the former Seahawks No. 1 receiver had cleaned up his act and should be given a second chance.
"Now, I'm a little bit biased obviously," Favre said. "But I think he's done everything he's been asked to do, and it's time to set a good example -- that you can resurrect not only your career, but your life. I mean, there's still a lot left for him to do on and off the field, but give the guy an opportunity."
Goodell did that on Wednesday.
John Clayton, who covers the NFL for ESPN.com, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.