Commissioner Roger Goodell was powerless when it came to punishing Detroit Lions mauler Ndamukong Suh, following his idiotic cheapshot, head-banging and stomping of Green Bay Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving. The court of public opinion played the role of judge, jury and executioner in this particular case.
Had Suh lost his cool on any given Sunday during the season, rather than the fourth Thursday in November, the punishment almost certainly would have been lighter than the two-game suspension — and roughly $164,000 fine in game checks.
Look at Suh’s track record. Before overheating on Turkey Day, he had been fined a grand total of $42,500 for “dirty” hits on three quarterbacks — Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton ($20,000), Chicago’s Jay Cutler ($15,000) and Cleveland’s Jake Delhomme ($7,500).
Hits that jeopardized the future of two franchise cornerstones (Dalton, Cutler) were worth five-figure checks. If that’s the going rate for franchise quarterbacks, how much is stepping on the arm of a no-name Packer O-lineman worth?
But too many grandmothers, crazy uncles and young kids were watching. Whereas Barry Sanders’ greatness needed no explanation to wow the Thanksgiving crowd once upon a time, Suh’s foolishness disgusted many fringe football fans in the family and caused entirely too much unwanted commotion for what should be a laid-back day. Suh is paying for ruining dinner conversation more than he is for his so-called “stomp.”
When Albert Haynesworth scraped his spikes over Andre Gurode’s face in 2006, the aftermath resulted in 30 stitches and a five-game suspension. Dietrich-Smith did not need stitches; he didn’t even miss a down. Suh’s punishment is too harsh for the crime.
– Nathan Rush
This one’s a no-brainer, and I’m starting to think that Suh is, too. Knowing he needed to watch his step given his previous transgressions, Suh instead stomped an opponent during the league’s biggest Thanksgiving showcase game in years and then showed an appalling lack of contrition and self-awareness afterwards. He deserves suspension on the grounds of unforgivable stupidity alone.
To recap, in case you were already in a tryptophan coma when the incident occurred and have been ignoring the news ever since: After a play in the Lions’ 27–15 Thanksgiving Day loss to Green Bay, Suh shoved the head of Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith into the ground, then got up and stomped on his arm.
After the game, Suh offered an incoherent “apology” that essentially asked us to ignore what our lying eyes had told us. “I apologize to my teammates and my fans and my coaches for putting myself in a position to be misinterpreted and taken out of the game,” he said. Misinterpreted? Was he showing Dietrich-Smith a new dance move?
After the subsequent ridicule, Suh changed his tune and reached out to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell with a more carefully scripted apology, but the damage was done, and the commissioner’s office handed down a two-game suspension that was, if anything, too lenient. In an era of extreme sensitivity to injury, actions that extend well beyond aggression and into the realm of assault simply can’t be tolerated, and Goodell was forced to respond firmly.
The Suh Stomp joins a list of misdeeds that now includes eight personal foul penalties since the start of the 2010 season and five instances of league discipline.
Sometimes, aggression can be misinterpreted and a player can acquire an unfair label. That’s not the case with Suh. With his latest boneheaded act, Suh confirmed every suspicion about him. His reputation as a dirty player is well-earned, and growing.
– Rob Doster