The Detroit Lions have been informed by the NFL league office that star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell for two games without pay for his "unsportsmanlike conduct" in a Thanksgiving Day game, FOXSports.com has learned.
The NFL says Suh is appealing the suspension. The NFL plans to expedite the hearing to have a decision before Detroit plays at New Orleans on Sunday night. League spokesman Greg Aiello says Suh’s hearing will be with Hall of Fame offensive lineman Art Shell, an appointed appeal officer who is paid by the NFL and NFLPA.
If Suh doesn’t win the appeal, he won’t play against the Saints or in a Dec. 11 matchup with Minnesota at home before being reinstated the next day ahead of a road game against Oakland.
The ruling is a straight two-game suspension without any stipulation by the league that Suh has to go through any sort of anger management counseling. He still may be required to go per the team’s advice, but counseling will not be required.
Suh was ejected during the third quarter of his team’s 27-15 Week 12 loss to the Packers after scuffling with guard Evan Dietrich-Smith, then stomping on Dietrich-Smith’s right arm as he got up to walk away.
Suh called Goodell on Sunday to apologize, but it didn’t seem to help.
”We respect the process the league undertook in order to arrive at this decision,” the Lions said in a statement before Tuesday afternoon’s practice. The team will have a roster exception during Suh’s suspension.
Suh can’t practice or be at the Lions’ practice facility for any reason during the suspension.
The official NFL statement released on Tuesday notes that it was Suh’s fifth violation of on-field rules in the past two seasons that has resulted in league discipline.
"Playing professional sports … is a profession with great responsibility, and where performance on and off the field should never be compromised," Suh wrote on his Facebook page a day after Thursday’s game.
"I want to reiterate my commitment to working to become a better player, and professional — on and off the field. My reaction on Thursday was unacceptable."
Suh has previously been fined three times in his brief NFL career for a total of $42,500 for illegal hits on quarterbacks. He leads the league with nine personal fouls since 2010, according to STATS LLC — two more than teammate Cliff Avril and three more than Philadelphia’s Jason Babin, San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson and Denver’s D.J. Williams.
Suh grabbed Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton and threw him to the turf after he had gotten rid of the ball in a preseason game this year. He was docked twice last year for shoving Chicago’s Jay Cutler high in the back and for twisting Cleveland’s Jake Delhomme’s face mask and slamming him to the ground. He also was fined $5,000 during Week 9 in the 2010 season for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The incident on Thanksgiving Day came just weeks after the 24-year-old Suh met face-to-face with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in an effort to gain a better understanding of the league’s policy on illegal hits.
He has been able to absorb the fines, making $40 million guaranteed with a chance to get paid as much as $68 million in his five-year contract he signed after Detroit drafted the former Nebraska star No. 2 overall in 2010.
Suh’s reputation, though, has just taken a big hit and it will cost his team that is clinging to hopes of earning a spot in the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season.
The Associated Press and NewsCore contributed to this report.