Suh a distraction from real Cowboys-Lions storylines

It’s too bad the dirtiest player in the NFL has upstaged what should be a tremendous matchup between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. This should’ve been about Highland Park’s Matthew Stafford returning home to face a resurgent Cowboys defense. Or the best rushing attack in the NFL vs. a team that only gave up one 100-yard game to a running back during the 2014 season.

Instead, we’ve been treated to drama caused by Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh intentionally stomping on the leg of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Considering Suh’s disturbing body of work, this was a relatively minor offense on his part. There’s nothing that occurred in his foolish act that would’ve led to serious injury for Rodgers. But the league looked at the play and determined that it was worthy of a one-game suspension.

I think Merton Hanks probably went a little too far, but it was impossible for him to ignore Suh’s past actions. Fortunately for Suh, his sullied on-field past wasn’t allowed to be a factor because he wasn’t reviewed as a "repeat offender." If that sounds ridiculous to you, know that you’re not alone. Suh benefited from one of the greatest "good behavior" programs in America.

Suh’s last violation (officially) was in Week 1 of 2013, when he was fined $100,000 for an illegal block on Vikings center John Sullivan. It was the biggest fine in NFL history for on-field conduct and it was supposed to send a strong message. Suh was fined again later in the season for a hit on then-Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, but it was later rescinded. And that’s the sort of loophole than can keep one of the league’s best defensive players from missing a playoff game.

According to the league, a player who goes 32 games (including a maximum of two preseason games) without a violation is removed from the "repeat offender" list. Suh’s been fined eight previous times and already had one suspension on his resume, but his slate was wiped clean by this benevolent program.

That’s why the suspension was overturned, and Suh was "let off the hook" with a $70,000 fine. The NFL’s ruling that Suh intentionally stepped on Rodgers was supported by the hefty fine, but the mediator decided it didn’t rise to the level of a suspension.

The Cowboys have done a good job not worrying about Suh’s status for this game. An offense that pushed around Seattle’s defense earlier this season isn’t going to fret over a single player, no matter how talented he may be. It would surprise me if Jason Garrett or defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli had mentioned the Suh incident to players this week.

The Lions are certainly more formidable with Suh in the starting lineup, but I’m not sure his presence alone will swing this game one way or another. Maybe now we can get back to some of the more valid storylines in this game.


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