Ndamukong Suh: Blowing Up In Public

This is when we noticed Mr. Suh had anger management issues. (photo: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE)

This is when we noticed Mr. Suh had anger management issues.
(photo: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE)

Ndamukong Suh has a job.   On fall Sunday afternoons he wreaks havoc on offensive linemen and terrorizes quarterbacks.  This is something the 6-4, 307 pound defensive tackle, who was the number two overall draft pick in 2010 by the Detroit Lions, excels at.   He is big, nasty and mean.

He is also the dirtiest player in the NFL.    Suh doesn’t simply play hard and intimidate opposing players.   He tries to punish them.   Even after repeated fines and suspensions as well as a one-on-one meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell,  Suh remains undeterred and unrepentant in his roughhouse style of play.

The 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowl selection, Suh has also the physical and mental gifts to be a dominant force in the league, but his wrecking ball approach has gotten him in trouble from the beginning.

As a rookie, Suh was fined twice for hard hits on quarterbacks Jake Delhomme ($7,500) and Jay Cutler ($15,000).  He was fined again for using an opponent for leverage on a field goal ($5,000). In 2011, Sue was $20,000 lighter in the wallet for a vicious preseason hit on Andy Dalton. Last year, Suh was fined $30,000 for kicking Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin on Thanksgiving.

Suh must not like playing on holidays because it was on Thanksgiving in 2011 when he was  suspended two games for stomping on the arm of Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.   Last season , he tried to top that with his kick to Matt Schaub’s man zone.

“I’m not a dirty player. Would a dirty player do this?”

That ugly incident and Suh’s total denial that he had done anything wrong is when “dirty player” and “Ndamukong Suh” became synonymous.

Suh didn’t wait long to get back into the rotation of hot topics on sportstalk radio.   On opening week against the Minnesota Vikings,  Suh’s teammate De’Andre Levy intercepted a pass and rumbled toward the end zone.   Trailing behind in pursuit was Vikings center, John Sullivan.   On a change of possession such as an interception or fumble recovery NFL rules state a player can’t be blocked below the knee.  It’s a nasty and illegal hit that can blow out a man’s knees and end his career.   Suh, a defensive team captain, should know this rule.

If he did it didn’t matter.  Suh came up from behind Sullivan, dived at his knee and took Sullivan down in a heap as he crumpled in agony.   Levy went on to score only to have the TD wiped out due to the clipping penalty Suh picked up.   Fortunately for Sullivan, he wasn’t badly hurt.

Chalk it up to dumb luck because Suh’s dumb play could have had far worse consequences than six points coming off the scoreboard.

Sullivan told an interviewer,  “I don’t think he was trying to hurt me,” Sullivan said. “But there need to be consequences when guys don’t respect the careers of other players.”

Suh doesn’t respect the careers of other players.  He lumbers around stadiums crashing into people and acts the innocent when asked why he seemingly doesn’t care if he hurts someone.  For two consecutive years he’s been named the NFL’s dirtiest player  and if wants to make it three years he’s well on his way.

Suh has lost more than $342,000 in fines and missed game checks due to player-safety violations. He can afford it.  He’s made more than $51.7 million in his career from the Lions so far.

“It’s unfortunate that that had to happen and it kind of overshadowed his performance, but we stick with him. He’s a guy that’s an integral part of our team and a great player on defense and hopefully we can put this behind us and just move on.”  said a happy Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford who is relieved he is on the same team as Suh and can’t be hit by him.  Presumably.

Suh remains unapologetic and shrugged off the fine (which he is appealing) and the cheap shot on Sullivan.  “Really you just play football, that’s all I can do,” Suh told reporters. “… I don’t change, I’m going to always play tough, hard, that’s the way I was brought up at Nebraska, where I really learned football from the Pelinis and that staff and continue to play hard, play blue-collar football.”

“I think it’s just, player safety is the league’s concern,” Suh said. “You’ve got to only respect it, and that’s one of the reasons I spoke to Sullivan as we walked into the halftime, and he understood where I was coming from. No hard feelings and same thing if he cut me so forth, so on, no hard feelings and go from there.”

Lions coach Jim Schwartz has been an apologist and enabler for Sue’s dirty play since he came into the league.   After the win over the Vikings at the post-game press conference Schwartz made it clear he had no regrets for Suh’s bonehead play which negated a touchdown.

“I’m not (going to) apologize for any win. We won this football game. There (were) a lot of positives in this game. We were resilient, we played hard, we played physical, and we went out and beat a playoff team at home in the opener, and I’m not (going to) apologize for anything this team did.”

Schwartz is one of the most mediocre coaches in the NFL.    He’s been with the team since 2009 and compiled a record of 23 wins to 42 losses, with one division championship.  The Lions have never made it to a Super Bowl and they never will with Schwartz coaching the team.

Here’s the problem for the Lions:  They have a bad coach leading a mediocre team starring the league’s dirtiest player in a bankrupt city.  If it wasn’t for Calvin Johnson, the Lions would be right down there with the Jacksonville Jaguars for lack of watchability.

Suh isn’t going to change how he plays over a record-setting $100 thousand fine.   He says he’s not going to change.  Schwartz—who is no Bill Parcells or Bill Cowher type of take-no-shit coach—doesn’t have the balls to tell Suh, “Your dumb plays are killing us, so knock ‘it off before I bench your ass!”

What does $100K fine mean to somebody with a $51 million contract?  That’s nothing but a speeding ticket to Suh.  You pay the fine and go right back to speeding.

In 2011, Suh asked for and received a meeting with Goodell to find out exactly how aggressive his style of play could go before going too far.  He emerged from the conversation promising to continue to play his way, but within the rules.

“The way I play, the way I have played in the past, is to continue to play within the rules and just have an understanding of what they look for,”  Suh said.  “I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to repeat mistakes. That was the main thing that, more or less, (Goodell) was emphasizing. I haven’t made the same mistakes I made in the past.”

That’s half-true.  The mistakes continue to happen but they are happening to different players.

Despite efforts to regulate, control and reduce the violence of pro football there is an unspoken code of conduct among the players and cheap shot artists who seem to be deliberately trying to hurt others make themselves a target for retaliation.  It only takes one offensive lineman to blindside, leg-whip, crackback block, or set Sue up for a high-low hit that seriously injures him or ends his career.

ESPN football analyst Herm Edwards, a former coach and player himself issued a caution to Suh and Schwartz.

“You as a coach, you have to make this young man understand, ‘If you want to continue to have a long career in this league, look, there’s only so much I can do,'” Edwards said. “They can fine you. They can take games away from you. But when the players that play against you, they watch you on tape, you’re setting yourself up.”

“Right now, the way you’re going, these players know how to fix it.”

Actions have consequences.  If Ndamukong Suh doesn’t find a way to harness the fury he plays with and channel it into a less malicious approach to playing defense, someone is going to fix him in a way that could leave him broken beyond repair.

Don’t drop bombs on Syria. Suh can do the job.

Stompin’ With Ndamukong Suh

Doin' the Suh Stomp (photo: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE)

Ndamukong Suh is not a dumb jock by any stretch of the imagination.  The 6-4, 307 lb defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions is intelligent, articulate and likeable.

That’s off the field.  On the field, he’s a suitable candidate for anger management class as he rages and terrorizes NFL offensives with his combination of power, strength and ferocity.  Suh was also named “the dirtiest player in the NFL” in a survey of players.  Thanksgiving day, he lived up to the title when he first tried to push Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith’s helmet into the Ford Field turf and then stomped on his head in a rage.

Even by pro football standards that act crossed the line from Suh being a mean guy into a crazy guy.  The NFL keeps getting increasingly wimpy as time goes by, but there’s still a place for mean guys.  Crazy guys are scary and no fun to be around because you don’t know who they are going to get crazy on next.

After the game Suh issued an “apology” that went over like soggy dressing and cold turkey.

“I apologize to my teammates and my fans and my coaches for putting myself in a position to be misinterpreted and taken out of the game,”  Suh snarled.

Misinterpreted?

No good, playa.  That reaction was entirely self-serving and totally untethered to the reality an audience in the millions watching on national TV saw with their own eyes.  Try again.

Suh is a violent man who plays the game violently.

“My reaction on Thursday was unacceptable,” the star defensive tackle said in a statement on his Facebook page Friday night. “I made a mistake, and have learned from it. I hope to direct the focus back to the task at hand—by winning.”

That’s a little better, but still not close to being good enough.  Suh failed to apologize to  Dietrich-Smith or anyone else.

Suh is one of the strongest players in the NFL and when his head is out of his ass and back on his broad shoulders, he’s possibly the best defensive tackle in the league.

But he is a dirty player.  He can’t help it that he was born too late to play when pro football was rougher and tougher than it is in Roger Goodell’s No Fun League.

In two seasons Suh has been fined nearly $50,000 (chicken feed) for hits and unsportsmanlike conduct on the field.  At his own request he met this month with Goodell to discuss how he could play within the rules and not get fined.  Obviously, whatever Goodell told Suh went right in one ear and out the other.

NBC football analyst, Rodney Harrison, who also was tagged with the “dirty player” rep says Suh should be fined heavily and suspended for two games.

“It’s up to the commissioner to step in and make an example out of this young man,” Harrison said,” “He’s got a $50 million contract, multiple commercial sponsorships, what’s $40,000, $50,000? Heck, I didn’t even make that type of money when I played and 10- or $15,000 didn’t bother me.

“Imagine the type of money he’s making, but the way to get his attention is you suspend him, you sit him on his butt for two games and I guarantee when he comes back he’ll be a different player.”

In the same game Suh’s teammate, Kyle Vanden Bosch sacked Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.  The hit was hard, but Vanden Bosch didn’t lead with his helmet or drive Rodgers into the turf.  He still got flagged for unnecessary roughness.

Later Rodgers was knocked down after releasing the ball and immediately looked up at the referee with a look that said, “where’s the flag?”   That’s what’s happening in the NFL now where superstar quarterbacks are pampered and protected.  The elite of the league,  Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, receive special protection from the refs and woe any defensive player that so much on breathes on them let alone brushing them lightly without making sure there’s some fluffed up pillows under them to break their fall.

"Thank you sir, may I have another?"

Nobody knows how to tackle any more in the neutered NFL, but everybody knows you can’t tap dance on a dude’s dome like you’re trying to kill a cockroach.   So bye-bye, Ndamukong, because you’re about to be sent to the Time Out corner.

Suh will eventually be the best defensive player in the NFL.  First thing though he’s got to learn to get his temper in check and respect of the lame new world of the NFL and it’s one step removed from flag football rules.

One comment on the return of the NBA.  My FB friend Jemele Hill is asking now that the NBA lock-out is over who will be the league MVP and champions?   My answer is the MVP is Michael Jordan and the champions are The Owners. They slam-dunked the Players and the comedy team of Hunter and Fisher. His Airness and Unfairness should be measured and fitted for a seventh ring.

The NBA may be back but they can’t make me care.