So let me get this straight:
An NFL player with a history of unruly violence steps on another player’s leg, is suspended, but then appeals and gets the suspension overturned even though the act cost him a $70,000 fine and the appeals officer doesn’t believe for one second that he’s innocent.
I got that right?
Unbelievably, I do. And unfortunately for the Cowboys and the rest of the NFL, Ndamukong Suh will be on the field for the Lions in Sunday afternoon’s NFC playoff game. The Cowboys can – and will – beat Detroit with Suh. That’s not the point. It’s just that an NFL that tries to convince us it’s soooo concerned with player safety allows this thug to return the field under the most peculiar of circumstances.
Imagine being charged with a crime. You go to trial and the jury reads your verdict: “We hereby find the defendant guilty, but also vow to allow him to go free. Oh, and he needs to pay a hefty fine just for kicks.”
We all saw Suh – who is a notoriously dirty player who has been fined more than $200,000 for intentional, unnecessary violence on opposing players during his career – step on the leg of Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers last Sunday in Green Bay. Had he not had a history of stomping on opposing players, maybe he’d get the benefit of the doubt. And maybe we’d excuse him if not for his lamest excuse in the history of lame excuses.
Suh, in essence, told us that the dog ate his homework. That the cold weather at Lambeau Field caused his feet to be so numb that he couldn’t tell the difference between Rodgers’ leg and the ground.
You’re not buying that. And neither was appeals officer Ted Cottrell.
“Although I accept that your feet may have been cold on a late December day in Green Bay, it is difficult for me to believe that you did not feel Aaron Rodgers’ leg under you as you stepped on him twice,” Cottrell wrote to Suh in a letter published by Pro Football Talk. “While you may not have consciously intended to cause injury to the opposing player that you stepped on, I nonetheless believe that you could have avoided – and had the responsibility to avoid – making such dangerous contact with your opponent’s leg – twice. Your conduct was a clear violation of the Playing Rules and was outside the normal course of the game of football. It must be emphasized that illegal acts that jeopardize the safety of other players, as was certainly the case here, will not be tolerated in this League.”
Exactly! So then why did Cottrell reverse the suspension and allow Suh to play Sunday?
“Several of your representatives, including personnel from the Lions, argued that the impact of your suspension would have a devastating effect on you, your teammates and coaches, as well as Lions fans,” Cottrell wrote.
Wait, what the what?!
Imagine being guilty of punching a guy in a bar fight, but the judge letting you go because your family said it would be really, really sad if you went to jail. Yeah, right. Under Cottrell‘s premise, the Cowboys should petition to have Sam Hurd released from prison because, well, they could use another good special teams player Sunday.
Ultimately, the NFL and its process is giving “benefit of the doubt” to a dirty player who should in no way be allowed to be on the field Sunday.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.