The NFL has punished Ndamukong Such every way possible.
It has fined him five times. It has suspended him. It has fined him again, this time to the tune of $100,000 — the largest financial penalty not related to lost money from suspension in the history of the NFL. That, one would think, would get through to Suh, a great defensive player who was rated by his peers as the dirtiest player in the NFL in 2011.
Suh’s transgression this time was a low block aimed at the knees of Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan on an interception return. Suh was flagged on the play and the Detroit Lions’ touchdown return was nullified.
After the fine came down, Suh wasn’t talking to the media. Instead, his teammates were left to explain, excuse and/or apologize for Suh, who had just been named a team captain days before the opener. His teammates said that he had addressed them — and apologized.
“He just basically said that he can’t make those type of mistakes and he can’t put us in the position where we’ve got to battle back from mistakes like that,” wide receiver Nate Burleson said (via the Free Press). “And he also said with him having a target and people looking for him, they’re looking at us in the same light. So as a team we’ve got to understand that the microscope is on us.”
Although Suh claimed Sunday that he “wasn’t by any means going for his knees. He knows that,” he’s on an increasingly shorter leash by the league’s disciplinarians and another offense would seem likely to draw a suspension. After all, he has lost $342,000 to fines and missed game checks, but has been paid over $50 million.
Suh, who will appeal the fine, was belted again in the wallet because of past offenses that include a Thanksgiving stomp (resulting in a suspension), a Thanksgiving kick to the man zone of Matt Schaub, hits on Jay Cutler, Jake Delhomme and Andy Dalton. One writer, the Free Press’ Carlos Monarrez, calls the fine “one of the largest abuses of power in NFL history. He notes that the league “isn’t fining Suh for what he did. It’s fining him for who he is. In the league’s eyes, Suh is a repeat offender and it’s going to keep upping the ante with fines or suspensions.”
Suh is nothing if not polarizing. From the other side, Mike Freeman of the Bleacher Reports calls Suh “a punk,” and an unrepentant one at that. “He was a punk yesterday. He will be a punk tomorrow. And the day after and the day after that. … I thought he would change, and I believed the notion that Suh would focus more on technique and less on leg stomping,” Freeman writes. “Boy, was I wrong.”
But that’s where Suh is again, with everyone hoping this is the last time.
“He’s a teammate of ours and he’s a great player, a guy that besides that play wrecked the game for the Vikings,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He was in the backfield the whole game, caused a pick when [Stephen Tulloch] got his pick. He did a great job, played a great game. It’s unfortunate that that had to happen and it kind of overshadowed his performance, but we stick with him. He’s a guy that’s an integral part of our team and a great player on defense and hopefully we can put this behind us and just move on.”
Until the next time.