On a chilly U.S. Thanksgiving afternoon in southeast Michigan, Ndamukong Suh was the overwhelming winner of the Turkey of the Day award.
It was brutal enough that the bad boy of the Detroit Lions bounced the head of Evan Dietrich-Smith off the unforgiving emerald Ford Field carpet, then followed up by stomping on the arm of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive lineman.
But the coup de grace came about 20 minutes after the Packers’ dominating 27-15 victory over the undisciplined Lions when Suh somehow tried to justify his actions by insisting he was merely trying to get free from the clutches of the Packers’ player.
Maybe Suh is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the millions of television viewers who saw the incident differently.
Or maybe, just maybe, he believes his own propaganda.
Whatever the case, he is wrong. The video evidence shows it.
Yet, there was Suh, the so-called face of the Lions, the guy who has captured the hearts of this economically depressed city with his “take-no-prisoners” attitude, standing at the podium after the final gun claiming his innocence.
Here’s betting the NFL disciplinarians don’t see it that way.
“First and foremost, I’m only going to apologize to my teammates, my coaches and my true fans for allowing the refs to take me out of this game,” Suh said.
Reality check: While referee Terry McAulay and his crew admittedly were brutal on this day, they were right on the mark for ejecting Suh from the game, no matter how the Lions defensive lineman wants to spin it.
And spin it he did.
“I was on top of a guy being pulled down and trying to get off the ground,” Suh said. “You see me pushing his helmet down because I’m trying to remove myself from the situation. And, as I’m getting up, I’m getting pushed ...”
Suh then dropped the doozy that “my intentions were not to kick anybody, as I did not, removing myself.”
Tell that to the welt that Dietrich-Smith probably has on his arm right now.
Asked if he had intentionally stepped on another player, Suh replied: “Not by any means. I understand in this world because of the type of player and person that I am, all eyes are on me. So, why would I do something to jeopardize myself and jeopardize my team first and foremost?
“I don’t do bad things, and I have no intention to hurt somebody. If I want to hurt him, I’m going to hit his quarterback, as I did throughout that game.”
Really? You actually thought you put a beating on Aaron Rodgers? Then why were you credited with just one tackle? Suh’s comments expose the difference between contenders and pretenders —in this case, the defending champion Packers and playoff wannabe Lions.
It’s all about accountability and composure.
The 11-0 Packers have both qualities. The 7-4 Lions don’t. Not yet.
These are the same Lions whose coach, Jim Schwartz, snapped after a loss to San Francisco earlier this season because he thought 49ers counterpart Jim Harbaugh acted inappropriately during a post-game handshake.
And this is the same Ndamukong Suh who met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this season because of his penchant for crossing the line.
Expect another meeting. And a subsequent suspension.
Suh’s bonehead move could not have come at a worse time.
It’s Thanksgiving. A national television audience was sitting in front of their sets watching football and gorging turkey. The opponent was the Packers, a team that arguably has the largest cache of followers in the NFL.
How bad will the punishment be?
The most memorable incident of stomping came several years ago when Albert Haynesworth, then with the Titans, was suspended five games for bringing his foot down on Dallas centre Andre Gurode back in 2006.
Richard Seymour was involved in a less violent incident when he stomped on the Colts’ Tarik Genn during that same season and received just a $7,500 fine for his actions.
The Lions were their own worst enemies on this day. Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw three picks. His team was penalized 11 times for 82 yards. It was ugly all around.
And nothing was uglier than Ndamukong Suh’s senseless act.