The NFL suspended Detroit’s All-Pro defensive tackle on Tuesday for roughing up a Green Bay Packers player in front of a national television audience during a loss on Thanksgiving Day. Suh will miss Sunday night’s game at New Orleans and a Dec. 11 home game against Minnesota and he won’t be paid until he is reinstated Dec. 12.
Suh called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Sunday to apologize, but it didn’t seem to help. He has three days to appeal the suspension and if he does, the league plans to expedite the hearing to make a decision before the Lions play the Saints.
Messages seeking comment were left by The Associated Press with Suh’s agent, sister and the Lions. The suspension was first reported by Fox Sports.
Earlier this season, the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year requested a meeting with Goodell to discuss his play after he drew several penalties. Suh said he had a better understanding of the rules after that meeting.
Instead, he will be watching his teammates scramble to keep up in the NFC wildcard race after what the league was his fifth violation of on-field rules in his first two years in the NFL. And everyone saw this one.
Suh lifted up his right knee and forcibly stepped on the right arm of Green Bay guard Evan Dietrich-Smith during the third quarter of the Lions’ 27-15 loss last Thursday. On the same play, Suh shoved Dietrich-Smith’s helmet toward the turf while the Packers player was on the ground.
He was ejected for kicking and insisted during his postgame news conference that he didn’t intentionally step on Dietrich-Smith. After the Lions criticized his conduct the next day, Suh issued an apology and the talk of the league was whether he was the NFL’s dirtiest player.
Suh can’t practice or be at the Lions’ practice facility during the suspension. NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks notified Suh of the penalty for “unsportsmanlike conduct” on Monday.
In 2006, the NFL suspended Titans DT Albert Haynesworth for five games for swiping his cleats across the head of helmetless Dallas center Andre Gurode.
Suh has already been fined three times for roughing up quarterbacks. He grabbed Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton and threw him to the turf after he had gotten rid of the ball in a preseason game this year. Suh was docked twice last year for shoving Chicago’s Jay Cutler high in the back and for twisting Cleveland’s Jake Delhomme’s face mask and slamming him to the ground. He also was fined $5,000 during Week 9 in the 2010 season for unsportsmanlike conduct.
He has been able to absorb the fines, making $40 million guaranteed with a chance to get paid as much as $68 million in his five-year contract he signed after Detroit drafted the former Nebraska star No. 2 overall in 2010.
Suh’s reputation, though, has just taken a big hit and it will cost his team that is clinging to hopes of earning a spot in the playoffs for the first time this century.