Looks like it's open season on Ndamukong Suh once again. Over the past week, radio hosts and national writers have had a field day on trashing the much maligned Detroit Lions defensive tackle, and the NFL has treated him like the Grim Reaper of football.
Years ago, Suh was a dirty player and there wasn't really any use denying it. His infamous stomp on Evan Dietrich-Smith was once of the most dirty plays caught on camera of the last decade. He was suspended for that back then, and he's apparently still being punished for it.
Suh committed a stupid penalty in the Lions week 1 opener against Minnesota when he put a chop block on Vikings center John Sullivan. Sullivan was running after DeAndry Levy, who was running an interception return back for a touchdown, but there was no way he was going to catch him. Suh put a rough block on him, diving below Sullivan's waist to bring him down. The resulting penalty negated the touchdown. That hurt enough. Suh's play was legal last season, and happened quite frequently in the NFL and in the NCAA. It was a chop block. I saw players on the Michigan Wolverines put a few of those on players last season and they got a 15 yard penalty for doing so, end of story. It's a football play, but it's illegal, so a penalty should have been given. But the NFL delved into the ludicrous when it levied a $100,000 fine, the largest football related fine in NFL history, on Suh for the play. Why?
Suh's block wasn't anything that was outside the bounds of what you might expect in an NFL game. In fact it really only becomes "dirty" because Suh did it and not Sullivan. Turn the tables around, it's a non-story.
Suh was fined for his reputation, plain and simple. A reputation he is trying desperately to clean up. Last season, Suh received just one personal foul, for his unintentional kick to the groin of Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. He was fined a hefty amount for that one too.
I've heard radio hosts lambast Suh because Sullivan had surgically repaired knees. So what? Adrian Peterson also has a surgically repaired knee. Should defenders not tackle him or pull him down by his legs when he's running in the open field? You take an assumed risk by playing in the NFL and frankly, I feel people sound pretty lame when they're railing against physical play in (what used to be) a very physical game.
I know Suh isn't going to win any public relations battles. People hate him, even some Lions fans hate him. I just wish the NFL could apply their wrath evenly and judge each incident separately. It's almost to the point where Suh can't play a game without getting some sort of fine - for plays, that if they were committed by another player, would draw no attention at all. Suh's block was not the only one of its kind that happened in the NFL's opening week, you can count on that. But it's the only one that's being blown out of proportion. I won't even bring up a certain Green Bay Packers linebacker in this column.
I do know one thing. if I was Ndamukong Suh, I'd have to seriously consider walking away from the game if this type of treatment continues. There's not really anything he can do about it. It's a battle he isn't going to win, and it's only going to get worse.