Mike Vandermause column: Can suspension, fine knock sense into Suh's head?

Nov. 29, 2011

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Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) walks on the sidelines after being ejected from the game against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, Thursday, November 24, 2011. The Packers defeated the Lions, 27-15. / Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press — MCT


Maybe Ndamukong Suh finally will get it.

The Detroit Lions defensive lineman, known to many as the dirtiest player in the NFL, was slapped with a two-game suspension Tuesday, and the hope is the message sent by the league sinks in.

Suh will lose $165,647, or two-seventeenths of his $1.405 million base salary. He also is barred from practice and the team’s facility while suspended. The Lions, meanwhile, will lose their best defensive player as they fight for their playoff lives.

The punishment fits the crime, which was witnessed by a national television audience last Thursday at Ford Field in Detroit. After the whistle early in the third quarter, Suh repeatedly pushed Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith’s head into the ground and stomped on his arm.

Even more deplorable than Suh’s actions on the field were his words after the game, when with a straight face he defiantly denied any wrongdoing.

The suspension might have been as much for his words as his actions, which showed a blatant disregard for rules, fair play and respect for fellow players and the game.

Prior to his cheap shots against Dietrich-Smith, Suh had been fined three times for quarterback hits and another for unsportsmanlike conduct during his two-year career. He leads the league with nine personal fouls since 2010, according to STATS.

Not even Suh’s one-on-one meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this season did any good.

Perhaps coach Jim Schwartz and Lions teammates were too willing to coddle Suh rather than get in his face about his misconduct on the field. Perhaps the talented Suh was so arrogant he believed he was above the rules. Perhaps the NFL wasn’t tough enough with Suh in the past.

But the backlash from Suh’s bad behavior on Thanksgiving finally might have knocked some sense into his thick skull. A day after the game, he expressed remorse for his actions and on Sunday called Goodell to personally apologize.

The hit to Suh’s wallet should get his attention. But the sting of possibly costing his team a postseason berth could linger much longer and have far-reaching, positive results.

Packers players didn’t seem all that concerned about justice being served. They were instead hopeful Suh would learn from the experience.

“He probably deserved it,” linebacker Desmond Bishop said. “It is what it is. He did something wrong, suspended. He’s going to pay the fine and hopefully be back. Hopefully it can change him a little bit from doing something like that.”

Cornerback Jarrett Bush said he never likes to see players suspended, even division opponents.

“Hopefully he learned his lesson,” Bush said. “He’s a competitor. He got too much into the game and he did what he did. Unfortunately, you’ve got to pay the consequences in this business. Kids look up to you as a role model.

“Hopefully he learned from his mistake and won’t do it again. That’s all you can ask for.”

Suh appealed the suspension, which is standard procedure, and his case will go before appeal officer and former Raiders coach Art Shell, who is paid by the league and the players union. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league will expedite the process to give Suh and the Lions an answer before Sunday’s game at New Orleans.

If Shell knows what’s good for the game, and ultimately for Suh, he will stand firm on the NFL’s ruling.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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