GREEN BAY, Wis. — The NFL
suspended Green Bay Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly without pay for
the upcoming season and perhaps beyond for violating the league's
substance abuse policy.

Jolly's suspension begins
immediately and will continue through at least the 2010 season. He will
be eligible to apply for reinstatement after the Super Bowl.

Jolly is facing drug charges in
Houston after his July 2008 arrest outside a club for possession of at
least 200 grams of codeine. If convicted, Jolly faces up to 20 years in
prison.

"Johnny is a good player that
loves everything about the game of football," Packers general manager
Ted Thompson said in a statement. "We appreciate the contributions he
has made to the Packers the past four seasons. His focus and priorities
now lie elsewhere — our thoughts are with him during this difficult
personal time."

The Packers said team officials
would have no further comment.

It's a significant blow to a team
that will go into the 2010 season expected to make a run at the
playoffs and perhaps even the Super Bowl. A defensive end in Dom Capers'
3-4 scheme, Jolly played a key role as the Packers allowed a league-low
83.3 yards rushing per game.

Perhaps anticipating the
possibility of losing Jolly to a suspension, the Packers used a
second-round draft pick on Purdue defensive lineman Mike Neal in April.

Jolly, 27, was a sixth-round
draft pick in 2006 and worked his way into a starting role the past two
seasons.

A restricted free agent, Jolly
signed before an offseason deadline the would have allowed the team to
reduce the amount of its tender offer.

But Packers coach Mike McCarthy
excused Jolly from the team's minicamp in June to deal with his
off-field problems.

"There's a lot going on, and he
needs to focus and make sure he has everything in line," McCarthy said
last month. "These decisions that are going to be made legally will
affect every aspect of his life, most importantly his personal life and
then his professional life."

Fellow defensive lineman Ryan
Pickett
said last month that he expects Jolly, a friend, to learn from
the experience.

"If this stuff doesn't cause you
to change, what will?" Pickett said. "All this stuff he's going through
— you're missing practice, you can't be around your teammates, that'll
make you feel isolated from the team. So if this stuff doesn't change,
then that's an issue. I'm expecting him to be changed by this
experience, definitely."

Already facing a prolonged trial
with potentially serious consequences, Jolly got in more trouble in May
after flyers appeared advertising a party he allegedly hosted at a
Houston nightclub.

A judge placed tougher
restrictions for his bond, ordering him to submit a hair sample for
additional drug testing, adhere to a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, be
evaluated by a drug counselor and to not attend "clubs or any other
establishment where drugs or alcohol are used."

"I had better not see any more
fliers like this," state District Judge Mike Anderson told Jolly,
holding up the rectangular, color glossy flier that had a photograph of
Jolly wearing a blue polo shirt, a cap on backward and a large gold
watch next to a headshot of Jolly in his Packers' helmet.

"Yes sir," Jolly responded.

Jolly was arrested after 1 a.m.
on July 8, 2008, in the parking lot of a Houston club known for drug and
gun use.

A police gang unit pulled his
car over because of excessive noise coming from amplified bass music.
Jolly was arrested on a charge of possession of a controlled substance
after police "smelled the strong odor of codeine" in cups in the
vehicle, according to the police report. Lab tests subsequently
confirmed the codeine.

The charges against Jolly were
dropped in July 2009 so lab technicians could become proficient with a
new piece of equipment that measures codeine. He was re-indicted in
December 2009.