How Ndamukong Suh's History Earned Him $100,000 Fine
According to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer, the NFL informed Suh Tuesday of a $100,000 fine for his illegal low block of Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan during Detroit's 34-24 win Sunday. The $100,000 marks the highest fine levied against Suh, whom the league had disciplined on six separate occasions before Tuesday's announcement.
Sources tell me NFL is considering a whopping $100,000 fine for Lions' Suh for hit this weekend— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) September 10, 2013
Certainly, Suh's past history fueled the NFL's decision to levy the league's largest-ever fine for an on-field incident.
Suh's Rookie Mistakes
Twice during his rookie season, Suh was fined for hits on opposing quarterbacks.
The first came during the 2010 preseason, when Suh was flagged for a roughing-the-quarterback penalty on Jake Delhomme of the Cleveland Browns. The takedown was especially violent, as Suh first yanked on Delhomme's facemask before slamming the Browns quarterback to the turf by the head and neck area.
Delhomme was visibly upset after the play.
According to ESPN, the NFL docked Suh $7,500 for the hit.
Twelve games into the 2010 regular season, the league was again digging into Suh's pockets.
While originally ruled that Suh used a forearm to strike Cutler, video replays showed that Suh actually gave the Bears quarterback a strong, two-armed push.
The NFL stuck with referee Ed Hochuli's original call and later fined Suh $15,000, per ESPN.
Another QB Down
On the play in question, Suh got to Dalton as he was in the process of throwing the football. While his initial hit dislodged Dalton's helmet, Suh still proceeded to slam the helmet-less Dalton to the ground after the football was out of his hands. Suh was accurately flagged for roughing the passer.
For a third time, the NFL upped Suh's fine. His hit on Dalton cost him $20,000, per ESPN, but he also vowed not to change his style of playing. He also mentioned that his "strength" put officials in "a tough situation" regarding penalties related to roughness.
The Turkey Day Stomp
Suh's biggest disciplinary splash was yet to come, and this time there was no question as to what the refs saw.
During a nationally televised game on Thanksgiving Day 2011, Suh was ejected for intentionally stomping the arm of Green Bay Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith during a post-play skirmish. Suh was also caught on video slamming Dietrich-Smith's head into the ground before the stomp.
Instead of bumping up Suh's fine total for a fourth time, the NFL instead came down hard in the form of a two-game suspension. According to ESPN, Suh was suspended without pay, which cost the defensive tackle $165,000 in game checks.
By the middle of the 2012 season, the rest of the NFL was convinced: Suh was the game's dirtiest player. According to a Sporting News poll of 103 NFL players, Suh received the highest vote total with 32.
"Ndamukong Suh. I mean, the step-on and the choke and the kick and the arm bar," one NFC defensive player answered to Sporting News. "Enough said, right?"
Whiplash or Intentional Strike?
Quite possibly his most controversial fine came last November.
While rushing the passer during a game against the Houston Texans, Suh was spun to the ground and his foot connected with the groin area of quarterback Matt Schaub. Video of the play was mostly inconclusive in terms of whether Suh intentionally kicked Schaub or his foot accidentally came into contact with the signal-caller.
However, the NFL decided there was malicious intent to the play and fined Suh $30,000, per Mike Garafolo of USA Today.
Suh claimed the contact was "inadvertent," although he sang the same tune following his painfully obvious stomp of Dietrich-Smith roughly a year earlier. While Suh avoided a suspension, his $30,000 fine was the fourth-highest against an NFL player in 2012.
The Last Straw?
His stint out of the disciplinary limelight didn't last long. Suh's chop block on Sullivan this past Sunday could be considered needless at best and recklessly dangerous at worst.
The Vikings center was clearly trailing DeAndre Levy, who had intercepted Christian Ponder and could have coasted into the end zone. Suh purposely went low and clipped Sullivan, while also taking out his surgically repaired knee. Sullivan wasn't seriously injured, but it was a dangerous and unnecessary play under the circumstances.
According to Albert Breer of NFL.com, assistant director of operations Merton Hanks ruled that Suh's block violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 5 (a), which "prohibits blocks below the waist by players of either team after a change of possession."
Some, including Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, believed Suh should have received his second suspension for the illegal block.
Instead, the NFL will take $100,000 of Suh's $12.1 million salary in 2013. A two-game suspension would have cost Suh just under $80,000 altogether.
Given his history, should Ndamukong Suh have been suspended for his illegal block in Week 1?
The $100,000 is certainly significant, and it represents the NFL's highest-ever fine for an on-field infraction. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free-Press, James Harrison's $75,000 fine for hitting a defenseless receiver ranks next on the list, while fines of Ray Lewis ($250,000) and Bill Belichick ($500,000) were both for off-the-field actions.
When adding Tuesday's fine, Suh has now been fined six times for $177,500 and docked another $165,000 in lost game checks. His grand total over just four years in the NFL stands at $342,500.
However, that total only represents a fraction of what Suh has made in the NFL. As the No. 2 overall pick in 2010, Suh signed a five-year, $65 million deal that included $40 million in guarantees. According to Birkett, Suh has currently made over $51 million in his NFL career.
Also, the $100,000 is less than one percent of what Suh will make in total salary over the 2013 season.
Regardless of whether a fine or suspension was sufficient at this point, the NFL has made a very clear statement to Suh by issuing Tuesday's $100,000 fine. Having set the precedent for fine amounts, Suh has run out of opportunities to clean up his act on the field.
Another malicious act, given Suh's lengthy disciplinary history, will result in a suspension. Consider Suh officially and finally warned.
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