Ndamukong Suh was not in the holiday spirit during the Detroit Lions' 27-15 loss to the undefeated rival Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving.
Now, barring an appeal, the Lions defensive tackle will miss two games without pay for stomping Evan Dietrich-Smith, and at least one observer believes Suh should give thanks for the suspension.
If you were in a tryptophan haze and missed or forgot the altercation, you can check it out here. The video shows Dietrich-Smith block Suh to the ground before Suh turns him over, shoves his helmet into the turf and, as two Packers intervene, stomps Dietrich-Smith's arm while the Packers offensive lineman is lying on the ground.
Suh's reaction after the incident drew almost as much criticism as the act itself. He said he was trying to catch his balance and didn't intentionally step on Dietrich-Smith. You can decide for yourself after watching the aforementioned video, but Suh backtracked from this defense, which critics say was weaker than the New York Giants'¬†on Monday night.
Later, via Facebook, Suh apologized, saying, ‚ÄúMy reaction on Thursday was unacceptable. ... I made a mistake, and have learned from it. I hope to direct the focus back to the task at hand¬†– by winning.‚ÄĚ He also called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and apologized for his behavior, according to ESPN.
There's lots of talk¬†saying Suh is a dirty player who likes to beat up quarterbacks, he's faced league discipline in the past, he's been fined tens of thousands of dollars – and this is just his sophomore year. But the NFL Playbook blog points out that Suh was getting as good as he was giving prior to the stomp.
"On several plays, Green Bay‚Äôs guards ... got a nice hold of Suh‚Äôs shoulder pads, and, a couple times, his facemask. We saw two instances in the second quarter, specifically, where Dietrich-Smith tugged at his helmet gear. That‚Äôs on top of all of the everyday scraps and blocks to the legs a stud DT has to handle," the blog reported. "What had to be even more frustrating for Suh? The Packers blocked him pretty well."
Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke wrote that in addition to the financial blow – Suh will miss about $164,000 in game-day pay as he sits out against the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings – the Lions will doubtless miss their 2010 defensive rookie of the year as they scrap it out with the Chicago Bears for second place in the NFC North and, perhaps, a wild-card berth in the playoffs (sorry, Lions fans, catching the Packers seems wildly unlikely).
But Burke says Suh should take his suspension – and like it.
"The two-game suspension is fair punishment for what Suh did," Burke wrote. "And instead of hassling with an appeal, the smartest move he could make now is to take his medicine, sit out the next two weeks and do his best to repair the damage he‚Äôs done¬†– to his reputation and to his team¬†– once he returns."