Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, was involved in a play that could get him in trouble with the NFL. The play involved Suh rushing in to tackle Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub early in the game. With 6:49 left to play in the first quarter, Suh runs over Texans offensive lineman Derek Newton but falls down on his right side as he attempted to get to the Texans quarterback.
As he was falling to the ground, Suh’s left leg swung wide toward Schaub; it clutched back, then extended to the point where his left foot hit Schaub below the belt. The quarterback immediately lowered both of his hands to protect himself before falling to the ground.
Though there was no penalty called on the play, the Texans coach argued in protecting his player and now the league will review the play to see if it warrants any action towards Suh.
Being that Suh was not immediately penalized after the play suggests that the ref’s deemed it as being “business as usual.” However, when looking at the replay, Suh’s second motion where his foot makes contact into Schaub looks unnatural.
The league could have difficulty agreeing that the kick was intentional as others who have looked at the video clip needed multiple views to draw any conclusions. For example, Kevin Seifert from ESPN writes on how he feels that Suh’s second jab was at least unnatural and at worst intentional. Yet, it took dozens of views of the footage for him to be comfortable in saying this and even then is cautious in making some sort of dramatic conclusion.
Even fans tweeted in their views about the “kick felt across the league” and were split on Suh’s intentions. Those that thought it was unintentional would comment on how after looking at the clip there is no way to think it was intentional and that since he was looking away from the quarterback, any notion of malice towards Schaub is impossible. Those that thought the action was deliberate commented on the action as being extremely sneaky and that since you could clearly see his left leg/foot extending toward Schaub, it had to be intentional as a person’s leg does not do that when you fall naturally.
There was also mixed reaction to the play by both coaches as they were asked to comment after the game was over. Detroit’s coach Jim Schwartz said he did not see the incident happen but would “be very surprised if it was anything other than just the natural course of the game.” Coach Gary Kubiak told USA Today on Friday that, “I didn’t like it. Obviously, I let the official know.”
As for Schaub, he left without going into the incident and just said, “I really don’t have anything to say about that play or that person.” Unfortunately for Suh, the philosophy of “innocent until proven guilty” is not so easily applied to the incident, specifically Suh, due to his checkered past.
He has been fined and suspended before because of his aggressive style-of-play and was ironically suspended for two games after last year’s Thanksgiving Day game when he stomped on the arm of offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith of the Green Bay Packers. He was immediately thrown out of the game when the incident happened. Being the past that he has, it would be difficult to find him innocent and if found guilty, would receive a harsh penalty for being a repeated offender.
Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president of football operations, was interviewed on the “Dan Patrick Show” and asked if Suh’s past history as an offender will affect possible punishment. He said, “If a player has been disciplined in the last two seasons — 2010 and 2011, in this case — and that discipline has either been affirmed or reduced, which means that he was still determined to have been a violator, then that will certainly factor into our thinking as we look at a current offense, because if you’re a repeat offender, you really are not entitled to the benefit of the doubt. That will factor in as part of the thinking in this case and any others where there’s repeat-offender presence.”
Anderson also said that the incident will be viewed on Monday and go through the normal review process. He added that, “It didn’t seem to be a natural football move. We’re going to withhold judgment until we see all of the angles. We’ll look at that on Monday as part of the process. It just appeared to be out of the ordinary, and so we’re going to take a close look at it.”
Fox news in Detroit reported that Suh was ticketed in Lathrup Village, Michigan on November 15 for failure to use due care and caution. This isn’t Ndamukong Suh first traffic ticket either, it’s his fourth within the past year.
Last month, Suh and another driver both said they were sideswiped by each other. In March, Suh was ticketed for driving 91 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. A year ago, while Suh was serving his suspension for his infamous Thanksgiving stomp of Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith, he was ticketed for an accident in which he drove into a tree in Portland, Oregon.
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