The dirtiest player in football will be mad. Really mad. And the dirtiest player in football will try to destroy the Dallas Cowboys to prove he's not dirty.
Let me explain.
Two Lions players told me that Ndamukong Suh is fed up with being portrayed as a dirty player (which he is) and wants to take out his frustrations at being portrayed as a dirty player (which he is) on the Cowboys' offensive line (which he might).
These teammates say that Suh genuinely feels he's being unfairly portrayed by the media as a dirty football player. Suh feels he isn't. Which is kind of funny. Like a vampire being upset he's portrayed as a blood sucker. You are what you are.
These players think Suh will take out his anger on the Cowboys, and on that I agree. Suh will be on a mission to prove he can wreck an offense—not just Aaron Rodgers' leg—and do it fairly, without channeling his inner Conrad Dobler.
The Dallas-Detroit game is the most interesting one of the weekend for several reasons. First, we get to see just how good Dallas truly is. Are these the new Cowboys who don't choke in the postseason or the same ol' dudes who wilt under the heat? My guess is we will see an explosive, fired-up Dallas team that won't gag.
But that's where Suh comes in, and that's the second reason this game is the most fascinating of the week. A persecuted Suh—from his perspective—is potentially a scary Suh. Nothing like a cheap-shotting 305-pound beast on a mission to prove he's not a cheap-shotting beast, but just a beast.
Suh is always fascinating—and not in the good way or the silly way, like Johnny Manziel. But the train-wreck way. What Suh said in his appeal is an example of this. He actually said his feet were numb from the cold and that's why he didn't know he stepped on Rodgers' leg. Suh actually said that. He said that.
We know Suh said that because appeals officer Ted Cottrell wrote, "You stated that your feet were numb from the cold and you did not recognize the difference between Rodgers' leg and the ground."
An NFL official sent this note to fans who inquired about Suh:
Mr. Suh's actions were determined to be a serious violation of our rules. Under our system for on-field discipline by agreement with the NFL Players Association, our Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks makes the initial decision for on-field discipline.
The player then has a right to appeal, and one of the two appeals officers (former NFL player and Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks and former NFL coach/coordinator Ted Cottrell) that are jointly appointed and compensated with the union hears and decides the appeal. In this case, Merton Hanks and Ted Cottrell did not accept Mr. Suh's explanation and agreed that it was a serious violation.
They differed on their judgment of the level of discipline that it warranted. Mr. Hanks determined it deserved a one-game suspension. Mr. Cottrell decided in the appeal that it deserved a $70,000 fine. That is how our system works.
I didn't step on Aaron's leg. Actually, what had happened was Aaron's leg punched my cleats.
Incredible. But that's Suh.
Remember after he stomped on then-Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith in 2011? In his postgame press conference, he made every excuse in the book. It was comical.
Oh, I know Lions fans: He never does anything wrong. He is an angel. To Lions fans, the only thing dirty about Suh is the media that writes about him. Suh has lost more than $450,000 in wages and fines for his dirty play, as accumulated by the Detroit Free Press:
|2010 - Preseason||$7,500||Face mask|
|2010 - Week 9||$5,000||Using opponent as leverage|
|2010 - Week 13||$15,000||Unnecessary roughness|
|2011 - Preseason||$20,000||Roughing the passer|
|2011 - Week 12||$165,294||Stomping the arm|
|2012 - Week 12||$30,000||Kicking the groin|
|2013 - Week 1||$100,000||Low block|
|2013 - Week 6||$31,500||Helmet to chest|
|2013 - Week 12||$7,875||Throat slash|
|2014 - Week 17||$70,000||Stepping on leg|
Detroit Free Press
But nothing to see here. Keep blaming the media.
(MLive.com says the fine total is actually closer to $420,000. But look at that number: $420,000.)
Some teammates believe Suh operates best when he feels he's being persecuted. Even if he's not really being persecuted.
No one picks on Suh. No one is pulling this out of their backsides. Suh brings all of this attention to himself by being possibly the dirtiest NFL player of all time. Suh is dirty. He just is.
But he doesn't agree and feels wronged, and that could mean big trouble for the Cowboys.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.