<
>

Enough already, Ndamukong Suh

It is time for this nonsense with Ndamukong Suh to stop. The fines. The suspensions. The mistakes. The excessive behavior. It is detrimental to Suh, to his teammates, to the Detroit Lions franchise for which he is a captain and to the other men who play by the rules in the National Football League.

Enough.

On Tuesday, the NFL announced it has fined Suh $100,000 for an illegal hit he made Sunday on Minnesota center John Sullivan. It was the largest monetary fine, not counting pay lost for suspensions, the league has ever levied on a player for an on-field transgression.

What is it going to take for Suh, the Lions' wickedly talented defensive tackle, to realize he can't play fast and loose with the rules? He can't play dirty. He can't even appear to play dirty. The NFL is watching him. There is past precedent, cultivated over three previous seasons and now into a fourth.

Because of his previous transgressions, Suh will never, ever get the benefit of the doubt. Not anymore. Suh surrendered that benefit long ago, when he failed to learn from past mistakes and failed to alter his behavior on the football field.

Suh must realize that. He essentially is operating under a zero-tolerance policy, as Suh learned Tuesday. He is a repeat offender. No longer will a mistake cost him a little walking-around money. Now we're talking real, cut-into-his-bank-account dollars. If that doesn't get Suh's attention -- and I've never met a player who happily surrendered his hard-earned money -- nothing will.

Given all that has happened in his young career, you would think Suh would have learned his lesson already. You would think he would have altered his behavior. You would think he would learn to channel whatever impulses change him from a mild-mannered man off the field to an occasionally out-of-control athlete on it. But apparently, Suh hasn't.

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler, former Cleveland quarterback Jake Delhomme, Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith and Houston quarterback Matt Schaub know what Sullivan went through Sunday. Like Sullivan, those men have been on the receiving side of a Suh transgression. Suh slammed Dietrich-Smith's head into the ground three times and stomped on his right arm on Thanksgiving two seasons ago. The NFL suspended Suh for two games for that. Last Thanksgiving, Suh kicked Schaub in the groin. The league did not suspend Suh but fined him $30,000 for that.

Suh took out Sullivan at the knees after transitioning from being a defender to being a blocker following Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy's interception of Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. Suh made an illegal low block well behind where Levy was returning the interception. Suh's block was useless. It didn't help Levy, who was well on his way to scoring a touchdown that would have given Detroit a 13-7 lead early in the second quarter of a division game had Suh's penalty not negated the score.

Suh's actions took points off the board. They cost the Lions a go-ahead touchdown and momentum. Instead, Detroit got the ball on the Minnesota 39-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an interception on a pass intended for wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Four plays later, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson scored his second touchdown of the day to give Minnesota a 14-6 lead.

Detroit bailed out Suh and won the game 34-24, but that's not the point. The point is, Suh's boneheaded, reckless decision impacted a division game that the Lions desperately needed to have as they try to show that last season's 4-12 record was a fluke.

By this point, Suh should know better. For the first time in four seasons with the Lions, Suh is a team captain. Just days before delivering the low block on Sullivan, Suh at a players-only meeting preached the need for him and his teammates to be smarter on the field and to eliminate costly penalties. According to the Detroit Free Press, Suh reminded his teammates that the Super Bowl is well within their sights.

It won't be if Suh isn't on the field.

Suh must lead by example, but he also must remain on the field. Suh is smart, strong, a relentless worker and a feared pass-rusher. He has proven he was worth the second overall pick in the 2010 draft because he is the rock on one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.

By this point in his career, Suh should get it. He has seen and been through enough.

Which is what makes his continued pattern of reckless behavior so maddening. At some point, Suh needs to grow up. He needs to realize that his teammates need him, that the only way they can fulfill their goals is if he is there to help them.

The NFL fined Suh this time. Next time, maybe it will suspend him. The precedent there has been set, too. The league has already suspended Suh once for two games. If the escalation in fines is any indication, the next time the league will act more harshly.

Suh must put an end to his careless and selfish behavior before that time. Enough is enough.