When Suh undercut Vikings' center John Sullivan on DeAndre Levy's touchdown return Sunday, everyone knew what was coming next. Complaints about Suh being dirty would happen on Monday and Tuesday, as would hearings with the league, national media bashing and a firestorm of criticism if Suh received anything other than a lifetime ban from the game. It looks as if that will happen, as Suh appears to be heading for a fine instead of any missed games.
Suh gets no free passes here, and don't make the mistake of assuming this article is merely meant to defend him. Most of the game against Minnesota, he was invisible, sans the play in question. As a newly minted team captain, Suh undercutting an offensive lineman who's not going to catch Levy even if he runs at full speed is an unacceptable mistake. However, it was a mistake nonetheless, which also happened during the course of play, not after it. Suh even apologized to Sullivan, who was glad to hear it. That's not exactly the act of a man who wanted to eliminate his opponent from football and nothing else.
As Jim Schwartz said on Monday, Suh made a mistake out of hustle and desire to help his team. Should he have known better? Of course. However, this recent act was a split second decision and is nothing like stomping on Evan Dietrich-Smith after the play, despite everyone's attempts to make that connection. Had Suh gone low on a player when the ball was dead, the act would have warranted a lengthy suspension. Suh is a repeat offender when it comes to after whistle nonsense, but not as it pertains to mistakes in the course of play.
That means a suspension would not fit the crime in this case, nor should it fit the "repeat offender" label, because Suh's act didn't fall outside the course of play. This isn't written to plead for him to play next Sunday, either. Suh was probably Detroit's least effective defensive lineman against the Vikings, and the Lions' reserves played well. Even if he ends up being suspended, which is also still possible, the beat would likely go on.
The league cannot allow itself to get caught up in the media's witch hunt revolving around Suh's questionable past, though. If he makes another reprehensible mistake after the whistle like the stomping incident, suspend him to the fullest extent of the law. For things during the play depending on their severity, though, treat him as if he's any other player.
Suh's latest mistake already hurt his team once on the field, will hurt his perception further (justly or unjustly) and will likely end up hurting his own pocket book, as well. For now, that's punishment enough.
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