But there was an early sign of things to come when he was fined $7,500 in August of his first preseason for a hit on Cleveland quarterback Jake Delhomme. By November of the following year, he was voted by his peers as the dirtiest player in the NFL in a poll conducted by the Sporting News. Amazingly, that poll was conducted before he celebrated Thanksgiving by stomping on Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith’s arm after the whistle was blown. He was ejected and suspended two games. The next Thanksgiving, he proved he’d learned his lesson by kicking Houston quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin.
(Thanksgiving in the NFL has been redefined: Give thanks if your team doesn’t play the Lions on Thanksgiving. Maybe Suh’s just mad he has to work on a holiday.)
But Suh needs no holiday to bring out his best. In Week 1 of this season, Suh low-blocked Minnesota’s John Sullivan, costing the Lions a touchdown and Suh $100,000 — the largest fine unrelated to suspension ever levied by the league. Then came a report by Jay Glazer on Fox that Suh is just as tough on his teammates in practice as he is to his opponents, a charge Coach Jim Schwartz vehemently denied.
Yet oddly, for a guy who seems to have so little control on the football field, Suh has been in few off-field scrapes. In August, Suh pulled a pellet gun on a cable repairman working on a utility pole in his yard, apparently thinking the guy was a threat. Police investigated and no charges were brought. In fact, the only non-football problem Suh seems to have is reckless driving: speeding, sideswiping, a single-car accident with no alcohol involved. (He did manage to shoot a Chrysler commercial, apparently without incident.)
A month after he was named the dirtiest player in the NFL, he was named the most charitable by the Giving Back Fund, making its list of the top 30 athletes and celebrities to give money after giving $2.6 million to his alma mater ($2 million to athletics and $600,000 to the university’s college of engineering). Suh’s charitable foundation helps Detroiters as well as giving to Jamaica, where his mother was born, and Cameroon, his father’s native country.
In addition to his deliberate giving, his NFL fines go to charity as well. So it’s a win-win when he takes apart some quarterback and blows out some guy’s knee!
Except of course it’s not. Sunday, he’ll be taking aim at Washington’s offense, which is already taking body shots from its fans. They need to hope Thanksgiving doesn’t come early to Washington, because Suh could decide that Robert Griffin III is a wishbone.
For more by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.