VIDEO: NFL Suspends Lions Lineman Suh Two Games for Stomp
Detroit (7-4) is scrambling to keep pace in NFC wild-card race
Larry Lage AP Sports Writer
November 29, 2011
The NFL suspended Detroit's All-Pro defensive tackle on Tuesday for roughing up a Green Bay Packers player in front of a national television audience during a loss on Thanksgiving Day.
Suh will miss Sunday night's game at New Orleans and a Dec. 11 home game against Minnesota, with the Lions desperately trying to keep pace in the NFC. He won't be reinstated until Dec. 12.
Suh called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Sunday to apologize, but it didn't seem to help. Suh has three days to appeal the suspension and if he does, the league plans to expedite the hearing to make a decision before the Lions play the Saints.
"We respect the process the league undertook in order to arrive at this decision," the Lions said in a statement before Tuesday afternoon's practice. The team will have a roster exception during Suh's suspension.
Suh can't practice or be at the Lions' practice facility for any reason during the suspension. Message seeking comment were left by The Associated Press with Suh's agent.
Earlier this season, the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year requested a meeting with Goodell to discuss his play after he drew several penalties. Suh said he had a better understanding of the rules after that meeting four weeks ago.
And yet he will be watching the Lions (7-4) scramble to keep up in the NFC wild-card race after what the league said was his fifth violation of on-field rules in his first two years in the NFL.
And everyone saw this one.
Suh lifted up his right knee and forcibly stepped on the right arm of Green Bay guard Evan Dietrich-Smith during the third quarter of the Lions' 27-15 loss last Thursday. Before the stomp seen from coast to coast, Suh shoved Dietrich-Smith's helmet toward the turf while separating himself from the Packers player on the ground.
Suh was ejected, but insisted during his postgame news conference that he didn't intentionally step on his opponent. After the Lions criticized his conduct the next day, Suh issued an apology to his teammates, organization and fans - not to Dietrich-Smith - and some around the league said his after-the-whistle actions proved he was the NFL's dirtiest player.
NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks notified Suh of the suspension for "unsportsmanlike conduct" that was first reported by Fox Sports.
Suh has already been fined three times for roughing up quarterbacks and another time for unsportsmanlike conduct. He leads the league with nine personal fouls since 2010, according to STATS LLC -- two more than teammate Cliff Avril and three more than Philadelphia's Jason Babin, San Francisco's Dashon Goldson and Denver's D.J. Williams.
Suh grabbed Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton and threw him to the turf after he had gotten rid of the ball in a preseason game this year. He was docked twice last year for shoving Chicago's Jay Cutler high in the back and for twisting Cleveland's Jake Delhomme's face mask and slamming him to the ground. He also was fined $5,000 during Week 9 in the 2010 season for unsportsmanlike conduct.
He has been able to absorb the fines, making $40 million guaranteed with a chance to get paid as much as $68 million in his five-year contract he signed after Detroit drafted the former Nebraska star No. 2 overall in 2010.
Suh's reputation, though, has just taken a big hit and it will cost his team that is clinging to hopes of earning a spot in the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season.
The image-conscious player can try to work on his image and channeling his passion, but he won't get off an unwanted list of players who have been suspended for on-field conduct during the Goodell era.
Most famously, Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was suspended for five games in 2006 for swiping his cleats across the head of helmetless Dallas center Andre Gurode.
Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams was forced to miss a game in 2007 after his third illegal horse-collar tackle of that season. Tampa Bay's Elbert Mack had to sit out of a game during the 2008 season for a helmet-to-helmet blow, his second flagrant hit in three games. Eric Smith was suspended for a game that year for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Two years ago, Carolina's Dante Wesley missed a game for a hit to the head.
"It's a different game, covered differently these days," said four-time Super Bowl winning linebacker Matt Millen, whose playing career started three decades ago with the Oakland Raiders. "What's deemed crazy now, wasn't crazy back in the day. Now more than ever, you have to keep your poise and control emotions when you feel like you have to retaliate. What you learn is, you don't have to get back at the guy right then and that you've got time to take care of field justice."
Hall of Fame defensive tackle "Mean" Joe Greene said he suspects Suh has learned a lesson.
"I hated for that to happen to him and I'm sure he does now, too," Greene said. "With time, he'll learn how to funnel his fire, but I hope he never loses that fire because he has to have it to play the position."
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York contributed to this report.
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