It's been reported that DE Johnny Jolly has been suspended indefinitely and cannot return until after the Super Bowl. This should be a big deal for the Green Bay Packers since he's started all 32 games over the past two seasons, but it's not something that's really bothering me. Maybe that's because this isn't a big surprise, and it doesn't look like the team is very surprised by this either.
First some technicalities. Though he's awaiting trial to begin at the end of July, he hasn't been convicted of anything yet and he's never been in trouble otherwise. As Lori Nickel at the Journal Sentinel reported, there are three stages to the NFL's substance abuse program and a year long suspension doesn't happen until after there are multiple violations, so there's a lot we don't know. While this suspension only covers the entire season, a Stage 3 violation would trigger a one calendar year suspension, so this isn't a Stage 3 violation. Greg Bedard and Aaron Nagler think this is a combined suspension for substance abuse and a personal conduct violation. Jolly will now spend the season on the reserve-suspended list and the Packers won't have to pay him.
This case has been turning bad for a while now. At first it seemed like this might be a possession case with a modest punishment, but new charges were filed back in June alleging that he's a "major player in the Houston drug game." I wouldn't be surprised to see him work out a deal with the prosecutor or be found guilty, and it looks like he's played his last game for the Packers.
If there's a silver lining to this dark cloud, it's that the Packers seemed to have been hedging their bets with him. While they did tender him a contract as a restricted free agent, they've already moved DE Ryan Pickett over to Jolly's position, and drafted two defensive ends last April. They now have several backup options, and don't forget that Jolly didn't have a good 2009 season anyway. Looks like it's just time to move on.