Winning at what cost?

For years, the Detroit Lions were the laughing-stock of the NFL. Seemingly, every decision they made turned out to be the wrong one, from hiring Matt Millen to drafting Joey Harington.
Dec 7, 2012


Decades of futility reached a culmination when, in 2008, the Lions became the first NFL team ever to finish a season 0-16.

Then things started to turn around. Millen was replaced with Martin Mayhew. Harrington was replaced with Matthew Stafford.

Sure, the Fords still own the team, but Bill Ford Jr. appears much more capable of running the organization than his old man.

Suddenly, the Lions began winning. They reached the playoffs last year — and despite underachieving this season, they’re still far from the doormat of the NFL.

Yet, all is not well in Detroit.

This commitment to winning, it seems, has come at a cost; and it’s a problem faced by all winning organizations — both in sports and in other sectors.

The Lions drafted Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh with the second overall pick in 2010. Suh burst onto the scene with a fantastic rookie season, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

But, in the process, we began to see what kind of a person Suh is. He was punished several times by the NFL for his reckless physical play on the field. He went from being known as one of the most talented defensive players in the league to the dirtiest.

Suh was eventually suspended for a game for his dastardly stomp on the leg of a Green Bay Packers’ player during last year’s Thanksgiving Day game.

This year, he was nearly suspended for kicking Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin. He’s being criticized this week for gloating over an Indianapolis Colts player who was lying on the ground with a serious head injury.

This is clearly a young man who is out of control both emotionally and physically. He’s had several chances to show that he can handle the situation he’s in as a professional athlete, yet he’s failed miserably — both on the field and off — where he’s been accused of road rage multiple times.

This is not the kind of person football fans want to cheer for. Parents out looking for a Lions jersey for their kids for Christmas should pass over the Suh jerseys.

And the bigger problem is, he’s not the only one. The Lions went out on a limb and selected Titus Young in the 2011 draft. The speedy wide receiver from Boise State featured a blistering fast 40-yard time and a long history of trouble, including being suspended 11 games during his sophomore season.

Now those issues are carrying over to Detroit, where he’s been suspended for trying to sabotage the Lions’ passing game, lining up in the wrong spots and running the wrong routes.

There’s the right way to win and the wrong way to win. The Lions should take the high road and attempt to win the right way, with players whom the organization’s fans can be proud to support.

At this point, those players clearly don’t include Ndamukong Suh or Titus Young.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


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