Jim Schwartz and Lions Must Punish Ndamukong Suh for Bad Behavior
If Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions are serious about winning, and more importantly, winning the right way, then they need not wait for the NFL to punish Ndamukong Suh for his deplorable on-field conduct against the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving Day.
Yet, it appears as though Schwartz and the Lions are content to sit back and let the NFL take care of this situation. Suh was ejected from Thursday's game for stomping on Packers' lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith and explained after the game that he was trying to keep his balance.
The team released a statement on Friday condemning Suh's behavior but neglecting to take any of its own action in response to the matter:
“We have been in contact with Commissioner Goodell’s office and were advised that, like any on-field matter, Thursday’s incident is subject to review by the league office and that subsequent discipline would be determined by the league office.”
Likewise, Schwartz has decided to take a hands-off approach to Suh's apparent transgressions which, according to the Detroit Free Press, sets a rather dangerous precedent in the Lions' locker room. Schwartz held Gosder Cherilus out of Detroit's second game of the season after the offensive lineman was flagged for unnecessary roughness toward the end of the team's Week 1 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Should the Lions sit Ndamukong Suh on their own?
While Cherilus was certainly stupid for hitting linebacker Geno Hayes and piling on, his actions weren't nearly as malicious as Suh's appeared to be. The disparity in the immediate punishments—a 15-yard flag for Cherilus as opposed to an ejection for Suh—should point to that.
Apparently, Schwartz and the Lions don't see it that way. Perhaps, they'd rather not penalize their best player, seeing as how they're in the thick of the playoff race in the NFC, and, as such, need all the help they can get to reach the postseason for the first time since 1999.
Even though such ignorance poses a serious threat to the organization in the long run and establishes a sort of double standard for players in the Motor City. By not moving to voluntarily withhold Suh from their next game, they're sending the message to him and the team's other stars that it's okay to act like a goon on the field, so long as you are an integral, if not irreplaceable, part of the team.
Detroit would have a much tougher time finding an able fill-in for Suh, one of the league's best defensive players, than they did for Cherilus, whose place was assumed by Corey Hilliard in a 48-3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
In essence, then, the Lions are not only condoning Suh's deplorable actions, but encouraging them. Suh's reputation as a dirty player far preceded the loss to Green Bay and is something the team must be aware of at some level.
To pretend as though his model citizenship off the field is reason enough to look the other way when he's on it serves as a twisted flipping of the script in the NFL, wherein some teams (i.e. the Cincinnati Bengals) are almost too welcoming to those whose extracurricular exploits land them on the wrong side of the law.
For Schwartz and the Lions, inaction in this situation is the first step toward enabling Suh to continue behaving badly. They're ultimately allowing one of the inmates to run the asylum, hoping the attorney general will save them.
That can't sit well with Cherilus or any of his other Lions teammates, who may well be subjected to more substantial punishment from their own organization in situations of lesser gravity. Or, perhaps some of the other Motor City Kitties will now feel free to engage in the sort of thuggery in which Suh partook, assuming that the organization will shield them from whatever harm Roger Goodell would hope to visit upon them.
Ultimately, by sitting on their hands, the Lions are allowing cracks to form in the fresh pavement that's the winning culture around Ford Field, which can, and likely will, come back to bite them in the end once things turn sour in Motown.
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