Detroit Lions

Ndamukong Suh Proves Detroit Lions Sold Their Integrity for Jim Schwartz

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24:  Defensive end Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions argues with referee Terry McAulay #77 after Suh is ejected from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers during the Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field on November 24, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Derek EstesCorrespondent INovember 25, 2011

Ndamukong Suh's blatant attack on Evan Dietrich-Smith during the Lions-Packers Thanksgiving day game provides just the latest evidence of how far the Detroit Lions have fallen.

This isn't about their four losses in the last six games, or the quickly-evaporating hope that this is the Lions' year to turn around from a decade of losing seasons or their 11-year playoff hiatus.

This is about a team that's disintegrated from the next feel-good NFL story to another franchise that fans love to hate, and head coach Jim Schwartz lies at the heart of it all.

Make no mistake: Detroit continues to suffer an economic disaster as dramatic as Hurricane Katrina was to New Orleans. They rate perennially as one of the front-runners for crime rates. Their population dropped by over a million in the last 60 years, and the median income sits 48 percent below the national average.

Add in a Lions team that became the first 0-16 team in NFL history a few short years ago, and you have a city that begs for a Super Bowl run that inspires a new Ron Howard movie.

Instead, Detroit's on-field antics deserve their own remake of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels".

The Lions already paid out plenty this season in fines, including a $15,000 fine on quarterback Matt Stafford. Atlanta Falcons players accused Suh and Cliff Avril of taunting Matt Ryan while he lay injured on the ground. Stephen Tulloch and Tony Scheffler openly mocked Tim Tebow's habit of praying after a big play.

Then there's Suh's performance against Green Bay. Despite his claims of innocence, the replay shows Suh repeatedly shoving Dietrich-Smith's head into the ground, followed by a deliberate stomp on his arm.

Repeated infractions and poor sportsmanship are products of a team's culture. The Tennessee Titans had a similar reputation for this type of play with players like Albert Haynesworth and Cortland Finnegan. It looks like Schwartz brought that same type of play to Detroit with him.

Teams try to downplay their actions; they refer to themselves as "passionate" and "competitive." They call their play "chippy."

The Lions are finally bringing in enough quality talent to be competitive in the NFL again. A storied franchise such as theirs needs a return to their glory days.

But this isn't the way to do it, and I know it's already caused them to lose one fan.

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