There are any number of plausible reasons why the one-game suspension of Ndamukong Suh was overturned on appeal Tuesday.
But the explanation offered by the Detroit Lions’ defensive tackle probably isn’t chief among them.
Suh, stepped on the ankle of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice Sunday during the game in Green Bay, told Ted Cottrell, who presided over the appeal in New York, that his feet were numb from the cold and he couldn’t tell the difference between Rodgers’ feet and the ground, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
It isn’t clear whether Cottrell bought that, but the one-game suspension Suh was given Monday was overturned. More likely, Cottrell determined that Suh, who has been fined multiple times and suspended for past incidents, had gone 33 months without a violation. The league now clears a player’s slate after 32 incident-free games. And suspending a player for a playoff game, it could be argued, has a greater impact that a one-game suspension.
Now, thanks to Cottrell’s decision, Suh will only be fined $70,000 and will be able to play in the Lions’ wild-card game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
In announcing the suspension, the league noted that Suh had “unnecessarily stepped on [the] opponent’s unprotected leg as he lay on the ground unable to protect himself” and that was Rodgers’ take as well.
“The only thing I can say is if you step on something in your everyday life or if you step on somebody on the field, the first reaction seems to be looking back and maybe apologizing with your hands or maybe pulling your foot back right away,” Rodgers told ESPN Milwaukee on Tuesday, “and I’m just not sure that’s what happened on Sunday.”
Suh, a player who has often said he is misunderstood rather than dirty, has been fined over $200,000 over his career and was suspended once, for two games, after his Thanksgiving 2011 stomp of Evan-Dietrich-Smith. The last violation for which he was punished was for a low block on John Sullivan of the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 8, 2013.