It’s probably pretty sad that I wasn’t really all that surprised when I heard what Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh did during the game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, but it’s true.
When I scrolled through Twitter and saw and heard what Suh had done by stepping on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers not once but twice, I simply rolled my eyes because this is the player he is and has become. I was surprised, however, that he was originally suspended for a game and then even more surprised that Suh won his appeal to be able to play this coming weekend against the Dallas Cowboys.
Suh deserved to win his appeal. While it looked bad on television, simply stepping on someone, and now stomping with force, is the least worrisome attack a player can do in a football game.
But in the same breath, Suh has certainly earned this reputation as a “bad boy” and “dirty” player in the league, which no doubt contributed to his original one-game suspension.
The progression of Suh from a “good guy” at Nebraska and early in his career with Detroit to this dirty player that has been more or less polarizing is quite interesting. Outside of the Big 12 title game against Texas, I was kind of a fan of the guy. He worked hard, played well and was a good story. He got as close as any defensive player this side of the turn of the century to winning the Heisman award and received numerous other accolades in his senior year in Lincoln. Even in his first season with the Lions, he was a guy to root for and picked up the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.
But since then, it has seemed to go all downhill. Suh first really turned to the “dark side” on national television on Thanksgiving Day 2011 against Green Bay, when he pushed a offensive lineman’s head into the ground three times and then stepped on his head. Suh received a two-game suspension. The next year on Thanksgiving, he hit Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schawb in the groin and was fined $30,000.
In total Suh has been fined a combined $286, 875 and each incident only adds to his negative reputation. He was named in a Sporting News poll of players the “dirtiest player” in the NFL, which says a lot when his peers are agreeing with media and fans, and a Nielsen report named him the “least-liked player” in the NFL.
Of course, there are probably some who would argue that being a “bad boy” or “dirty” player is all about how he plays and that it helps him be the effective player he is. But I counter that J.J. Watt of the Texans is an absolute beast on the defensive line and yet is respectful of the game and opponents and is a really good guy off the field.
While I might be in the minority in saying Suh winning his appeal is the correct move based on technical grounds, Suh’s reputation of being a dirty player, which got him the suspension in the first place, is well deserved.
And until he decides to change his ways, I suspect this won’t be the last time Suh will have to deal with the league’s discipline.