The talk of Thanksgiving Day was not the Packers convincing victory over Detroit, Dallas’ comeback at home against Miami or even the HarBowl in Baltimore. It was the unsportsmanlike stomp from Detroit defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh that led to his ejection — and could lead to a suspension.
Suh locked up with Green Bay’s Evan Dietrich-Smith, and both fell to the ground in a clinch. As Dietrich-Smith tried to get up, Suh kept him pinned by way of holding his helmet to the turf and pushed up on his headgear three times. Once up, with a Packers’ player trying to move him away, Suh stomped on Dietrich-Smith’s arm and was ejected.
The play had been an incomplete Packers pass that would have forced a field goal. but the penalty gave Green Bay a first-and-goal at the Detroit 1, and the Packers punched it in for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead on the way to a 27-15 victory.
Here is a look at the play, via YouTube user jk2626261:
After the game, Suh addressed the ejection, as reported by Tim Twentyman on DetroitLions.com:
First and foremost, I’m only going to apologize to my teammates, my coaches, and my true fans for allowing the refs to have an opportunity to take me out of this game … What I did was remove myself from the situation in the best way I felt. My intentions were not to kick anybody, as I did not, (just) removing myself (from the situation). As you see, I’m walking away from the situation. With that, I apologize to my teammates, and my fans, and my coaches for allowing … putting myself in a position to be misinterpreted and taken out of the game.
Here is video of Suh’s postgame comments, via YouTube user DevonSartori:
Based on Suh’s reputation, and earlier requested meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to talk about his play, the un-Thanksgiving act might result in a suspension, according to FOXSports.com’s (and former NFL supervisor of officials) Mike Pereira, in a column and video Thursday night:
Suh’s not dirty, he’s filthy.
This guy has a history. An ugly one at that. Just look at the facts:
- Since coming into the league in 2010, Suh has committed nine personal fouls, more than any other player in the NFL.
- Before the Packers game, Suh had already been fined more than $42,000 for three personal fouls this season. With his total now up to four, he’ll probably be suspended without pay.
A personal foul is one thing, but what Suh did Thursday was as a non-football act. When a player hits another player with a late hit or commits a helmet-to-helmet hit, those are considered football plays. Stomping on somebody or spitting on someone — those are considered premeditated acts.
According to a Tweet from @STATS_NFL, Suh had been called for nine accepted personal fouls since the start of the 2010 season, the most in the NFL, plus another personal foul which was declined.
In research through NFLGSIS, Suh had been called for unsportsmanlike conduct in Week 1, roughing the passer in Week 4, and a face mask in Week 7 prior to today’s foul. Last season, he was penalized for five major fouls: roughing the passer, horse-collar tackle, two unnecessary roughness calls and a face mask.
All of those had led to $42,500 in fines over the last year and a half, and CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco broke down the totals, and how Suh’s past acts will impact how the league deals with his ejection:
Those incidents included a $20,000 fine (later reduced to $15,000) for a hit on Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton this preseason. He was also fined $15,000 for a hit on Jay Cutler in Week 13 last year and $7,500 for a hit Cleveland’s Jake Delhomme last preseason.
Those were fineable hits, but not really dirty. Compared to those, this kick is dirtier than your white t-shirt after playing a game of tackle football in the backyard mud.
Suh’s reputation also includes a lot of stuff that hasn’t been seen. He is known around the NFL for stepping on or elbowing a player as he gets up off a pile, nothing major but still what you would consider cheap.
Most of the time, I give dirty players the benefit of the doubt. The NFL is a nasty, violent game and it has been littered over the years with players who played it with a dirty style. We once revered those players.
Now they’re shredded in this era of instant analysis, 20 camera angles per game and nonstop highlights.
Giving a guy the business under a pile is one thing, but kicking a player for all to see is an entirely different matter, especially with past indiscretions on the résumé.
Prior to tonight’s San Francisco-Baltimore game, the NFL Network analysts weighed in on Suh and the Lions:
That’s ridiculous. That’s flat-out ridiculous. I think he’s delusional. He’s convinced himself that he’s in the right and he’s certainly in the wrong. — Deion Sanders on Suh being ejected vs. Packers
That was a half-hearted apology and he was clearly in the wrong…The Lions need him. They can’t have him suspended. The Lions are in a playoff run and you have to run on your leaders to be there and play well. You can’t have that. — Steve Mariucci on Suh
He’s physical, he’s nasty, he’s aggressive; all of those things I love. But he has to fall short of being dirty and doing ignorant things like we saw tonight. — Michael Irvin on Suh
I know [Ndamukong] Suh. I’ve talked to him several times. The person and the player that we see at times, there’s a disconnect. Something’s going on and he needs to get to the very bottom of it to find out what it is that when someone is getting the best of him, angry Suh comes out. – Marshall Faulk on Suh
As I Tweeted earlier Thursday, Suh would have made a great 1970s Oakland Raider. But, this is not the 1970s, and player safety and conduct is paramount to Goodell and the league office. Now, the NFL will decide how they see Suh’s foul in light of his previous penalties and fines.