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Pace Suspended Four Games by the NFL for Violating NFL Policy on Performance Enhancing Substances

The Jets were dealt a harsh blow Thursday as DE/LB Calvin Pace was sat down four games by the league for testing positive for a banned substance. Here’s the story from on the suspension:

New York Jets DE/OLB Calvin Pace has been suspended without pay for the team’s first four regular-season games of 2009 for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances, the league announced on Thursday.

Pace’s suspension begins on Saturday, September 5. He is eligible to return to the Jets’ active roster on Monday, October 5 following the team’s October 4 game against the New Orleans Saints. Pace is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.

Pace, who signed a six-year, $42 million deal with the Jets back in March of 2008, will lose four game checks totaling $176,470 (four-seventeenths of his base salary). Pace’s base salary for 2009 is just $750,000, but a league source said he carries a salary cap number over $7 million.

“This is a situation that resulted from an over-the-counter dietary supplement that contained a substance that I did not know violated the League’s policy. I am responsible for what I put into my body and I should have paid closer attention to the League’s guidelines. I regret that this has happened and apologize to my teammates, the entire Jets organization as well as the fans. Hopefully, this does not distract from our ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl,” Pace said in reaction to his four-game suspension.

Pace, who turns 29 in October, was originally selected in the first round of the 2003 draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He was a major disappointment for the Cardinals until the final season of his rookie deal when he played mostly outside linebacker. His breakout season in 2007 yielded him the huge free agent contract detailed above from the Jets.

With Pace out four games, pressure will be on second-year DE/OLB Vernon Gholston to make a strong contribution especially early in the season. Unfortunately, the former 2008 first-round pick only participated in roughly 16 percent of the defensive snaps last season and posted just 13 combined tackles along with zero sacks.

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