The lifetime suspension of cornerback Terry Taylor for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy caught the Detroit Lions by surprise.

The Lions knew Taylor had a history of trouble when they picked him up just before the 1989 season in the deal that sent James Jones to the Seattle Seahawks. They thought he had licked his problems. But late Wednesday night, they learned that trouble had found Taylor again - this time for good."Terry has been nothing but great here. Terry has been just super," Lions coach Wayne Fontes said Thursday. "His work ethics, his habits, meeting ethics, field ethics, everything has been just super."

Taylor becomes the seventh NFL player banned for life under the league's drug policy. But he is the first Lions player ever suspended for violating the policy.

The Lions said they won't appeal the league action, based on Taylor's third positive test for substance abuse. Taylor can reapply for admission to the league in a year.

"It's always a shock to find out something like that, and my heart is heavy and saddened," Fontes said. "But we have to go on and hope things work out for Terry."

Neither Taylor nor his agent, Jack Mills of Boulder, Colo., could be reached by telephone Thursday.

Teammate Leroy Irvin, signed as a free agent by the Lions this year, said Thursday he had talked to Taylor and that Taylor was devastated by his lifetime ban. Irvin himself was once suspended by the NFL for 30 days for failing a drug test when he was with the Los Angeles Rams.

"He has to go ahead and do what he has to do to get back in the game," Irvin said. "There's nothing that I can tell him now that he doesn't already know. He understands the situation. I just know that here with the Lions, we are going to miss him."

Taylor has been dogged by trouble for most of his seven-year career, which began when he chosen by the Seattle Seahawks as the 22nd player in the 1984 collegiate draft.

In Seattle, Taylor twice tested positive for substance abuse. He was treated once and fought a 1988 four-game suspension in court.

He was charged with assault after he allegedly punched a woman in the mouth outside a suburban Seattle video store in September 1987. The complaint was settled out of court and Taylor paid the woman unspecified damages.

Taylor also had numerous traffic violations and missed court appearances, according to court records. He has no criminal record in Michigan, according to Oakland County police.

During his professional career, Taylor had 309 tackles and 16 interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns.