Before the season started, I “interviewed” the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, and asked him about some of his disciplinary decisions. I couldn’t get him on the horn on short notice, but because I know he reads the site, I want to present the following data points for his review.
Case #1: Thanksgiving Day; Ndamukong Suh
Suspension for the above depicted act (which posed no meaningful threat of injury to any player): two games.
Case #2: December 8, 2011; James Harrison
Suspension for the above depicted act (which caused immediate and ongoing serious injury to the player involved): one game.
That Suh is a “repeat offender” cannot explain the distinction, as Harrison’s history of “devastating” hits is even more well known, and one of Harrison’s hits last season was the catalyst for the league’s crackdown on the very type of hit he put on McCoy last week. The only possible rationale for Suh’s heavier sanction is that his action came on Thanksgiving, a day of massive viewership, while Harrison’s hit was on a Thursday night game with many fewer viewers. Still, an indefensible basis for the disparity.
Many are rushing to brand Suh, previously largely a media darling, as a dirty, immature player, and I’ve tried to flesh out my own thoughts on 2011 Suh, but if you think Suh is making the Lions into a violent team, 1) you’re doing a disservice to Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, and 2) you haven’t heard 90s Lions star Lomas Brown dish on teammate Bennie Blades (fast forward to 3:24).