Ndamukong Suh Suspended Two Games, But That's Not Enough
Ndamukong Suh is getting off easy.
The league handed the Lions’ defensive tackle a two-game suspension Tuesday, following an incident in Detroit's Thanksgiving contest with division rival Green Bay. Suh was ejected after he banged Packer Evan Dietrich-Smith’s head into the ground multiple times, then appeared to stomp on his arm as his teammates pulled him away.
Well, at least the age-old question, “Isa dirty player?” can finally be put to rest, since we know the answer is a resounding, “yes.”
That’s about the only positive to come out of this scenario.
Suh’s hardly-a-suspension suspension makes a mockery of the work the league has supposedly done to protect players from increasing injury concerns.
Back in 2006, notorious troublemaker Albert Haynesworth sat out five games for an only slightly more vicious attack on then-Cowboys’ center Andre Gurode, in which Haynesworth stomped on Gurode’s head at least twice after tackling him.
That infraction was considered more egregious, evidently, because Haynesworth’s Gurode’s helmet had fallen off and the stomp drew blood.
Pundits and bloggers are right in saying that Suh’s stomp was less ferocious, and could even, if one wishes to be extremely forgiving in the spirit of Thanksgiving, be simply a casualty of Suh trying shake his foot free from Dietrich-Smith’s grasp (as Suh claimed in his postgame press conference).
But what of the moments before, when Suh repeatedly slammed Dietrich-Smith’s head into the ground?
If that doesn’t make the NFL’s concussion specialists sit up in their seats, then I’d imagine not much will.
If anything, Suh’s punishment should have been more severe given the emphasis, right or wrong, the NFL has put on abolishing certain hits in the name of player safety. What has to happen before the league realizes that, talented or no, passionate or no, this man is a liability?
Three weeks ago, it seemed as though they had noticed.
It was just this month that Suh, of his own accord, visited commissioner Roger Goodell at the league offices to discuss the fines and penalty calls he has amassed. The meeting, ostensibly, went well.
“We reviewed video showing that Ndamukong has clearly made the adjustments to play consistently within the rules so that he can continue to help the team,” Goodell said afterwards.
Suh’s memory of the meeting must have been short-lived. As arguably the best player on the field anytime he takes the turf, Suh isn’t helping his team at all by drawing penalties, getting ejected, and missing games.
The $20,000 fine that prompted the meeting, for a hit on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in August, was hardly the beginning. Suh’s been on the hot seat for the way he plays practically since Detroit drafted him No. 2 overall in 2010.
The DT garnered $22, 500 in fines for two hits that season, putting him near the top of the list of most-fined players. Still, coaches, teammates, and NFL analysts have come to his defense, citing the passion with which he plays the game and his ability to force tough plays that others simply can’t. With 10 sacks that season to lead all rookies, Suh certainly made the case that his transgressions were merely the inevitable result of a superior combination of passion and strength.
But this time, not even his team could defend him.
The Lions released the following statement on Friday.
“The on-field conduct exhibited by Ndamukong Suh that led to his ejection from yesterday's game was unacceptable and failed to meet the high level of sportsmanship we expect from our players. Ndamukong has made many positive contributions to the Lions on and off the field. We expect his behavior going forward to consistently reflect that high standard of professionalism.”
The Lions, it would seem, have gotten used to unrealistic optimism during their decades of disappointment.
Because nothing about Suh’s behavior so far has warranted an expectation that he will act in accordance with a high standard of professionalism.
Fines, flags galore, public criticism, and a personal meeting with the league have all failed to do the trick. It doesn’t follow that this relative slap on the wrist will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
If the league wants to make fans believe it’s serious about player safety, it must, at the very least, issue punishments that fit the crimes.
Watch the incident below:
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