Ndamukong Suh: Why He's Being Punished for Doing His Job and Making Mistakes
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First, he absolutely destroys Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan which results in him being labeled the NFL's dirtiest player. After meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about his "issues," he plays clean—until Thursday's game against the Green Bay Packers.
Suh got entangled with a Packers lineman and struggled to get up. In the process, Suh accidentally stomped the lineman. Suh was penalized, ejected, and could possibly be suspended and/or fined.
For an accident.
Suh didn't deserve the dirtiest player tag in the first place. He was simply doing his job against the Falcons, attempting to sack Ryan.
So Ryan got banged up. That's life. Suh doesn't do his job with the intent to hurt, like Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end James Harrison, or Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Rather, Suh just does his job and just happens to be really good at it.
Both Suh and I know that it's a defensive lineman's job to tackle—it's just some tackles are harder than others. However, he was obviously concerned with his play and he wanted to clarify things with Goodell. I'm pretty sure that in this meeting, Goodell didn't tell Suh to not tackle as hard.
But what really bothers me is what happened to Suh during the Thanksgiving Day game. Suh was penalized for an accidental misstep. He put his foot down, but instead of touching solid ground, he accidentally stepped on the unfortunate Packer he had been entangled with.
I know the referees can't tell the difference between accidental and malicious intent, but there are other examples to compare this to that could easily clarify that what happened was an accident:
November 18, 1985: Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor sacks Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. This sack ends Theismann's career. After the play, Taylor jumps to his feet and starts waving his hands frantically. While the Redskins interpret this as a taunt, Taylor is actually doing two things.
First, Taylor is a claustrophobe, a person who is afraid of enclosed spaces, and this is a fear reaction. Second, he is calling for help, as he knows Theismann's leg is broken. Verdict: Accident.
January 2, 2006: Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick intentionally stomps on the leg of Louisville linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who is lying prone on the ground. He isn't thrown out of the game, but this contributes to his dismissal from the school. Vick claims this was an accident and he apologized to Dumervil, but Dumervil claims otherwise. Verdict: Intentional
With these two examples, I think we can confirm that what happened to Suh was completely unintentional. He certainly isn't that type of player and is a victim of interpretation. Let's hope that the fine and/or suspension is not significant enough to damage the Lions' playoff hopes as he is part of the reason why the team is doing well.
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