Ndamukong Suh should skip appeal, accept two-game suspension
The NFL suspended Ndamukong Suh for two games without pay for his actions against the Packers on Thanksgiving Day — Suh slammed the head of Green Bay guard Evan Dietrich-Smith into the turf several times, then stomped on Dietrich-Smith’s arm. Suh is set to miss Detroit’s Week 13 Sunday night game in New Orleans and a Week 14 game against the Vikings.
Suh has decided to appeal the decision, and will receive an expedited appeal that will be heard and considered before the weekend. Usually, appeals are pushed off until the week after they’re filed — Cedric Benson continued playing this year under that timetable, as he appealed a three-game suspension, which was later reduced to one game. Suh won’t have that opportunity to delay his punishment while waiting for appeal.
While Suh is appealing the decision, it might be in his best interest to simply to accept the NFL’s punishment, which could have been longer (Albert Haynesworth received five games in 2006 for a stomping incident), or included either a fine or league-mandated anger management therapy for Suh.
Since hiring Jim Schwartz, the Lions have followed their coach’s lead, on and off the field. That’s resulted in a lot of positives, but Schwartz’s fiery personality has been pinpointed as one of the catalysts for Suh’s sometimes out of control on-field behavior.
Schwartz demands that his team play with an edge. Suh does that, and then some.
Suh’s play has been the subject of much criticism since he entered the league last season. He’s already racked up close to $50,000 in fines and met with commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this month, on Suh’s request, in an effort to gain a greater understanding of the rules.
But he went way over the line with his Thursday outburst — a situation made worse by Suh’s denial of any wrongdoing in the immediate aftermath. Unfortunately for him (and the league), his stomp of Dietrich-Smith was seen by a nationwide audience in one of the NFL’s showcase games.
Suh did backtrack on his initial plea of innocence, issuing a statement Saturday apologizing “for letting my teammates down, the organization, and especially to my fans who look to me for positive inspiration.”
Suh also reportedly called Roger Goodell to apologize for the incident.
Some of Suh’s motivation behind that, no doubt, was to try to minimize the punishment he received. Not only does the penalty cost Suh two games and $164,000 in game-day earnings (he also can’t practice during the suspension), it’s a huge blow to the Lions, who are 7-4 and fighting for their playoff lives.
Detroit trailed the undefeated Packers just 7-0 when Suh was hit with a personal foul penalty and ejected for his stomp. The penalty gave the Packers a 1st-and-goal after Detroit had stopped them on third down. Green Bay scored to go up 14-0, then rolled to a 27-15 win.
Even Suh’s teammates expressed frustration with Suh following the game, with fellow defensive tackle Corey Williams saying that Suh has to “learn how to control his temper.”
This suspension represents a fork in the road for Suh. Either he gets his emotions under control and channels them into becoming a dominant defensive lineman or he continues down the road he’s on now — a promising career derailed too often by dumb, and sometimes dirty, play on the field.
In less than two full years in the league, Suh’s reputation has plummeted to the point where even the staunchest Lions supporters could not defend his Thanksgiving Day actions.
Hopefully for him and the Lions, this punishment serves as a wake-up call. Suh cannot continue down this path, and Detroit cannot afford to deal with these distractions as it tries to turn things around.
The two-game suspension is fair punishment for what Suh did. And instead of hassling with an appeal, the smartest move would be to take his medicine, sit out the next two weeks and do his best to repair the damage he’s done — to his reputation and to his team — once he returns.