Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, during an appeal of his one-game suspension for twice stepping on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, said his feet were numb from the cold, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Wednesday.
A source said Suh told appeals officer Ted Cottrell on Tuesday that he couldn't tell the difference between Rodgers' feet and the ground.
Suh was originally suspended by the league for stepping on Rodgers' calf and ankle during the Packers' 30-20 win over the Lions on Sunday.
The league suspended him, saying Suh "unnecessarily stepped on [the] opponent's unprotected leg as he lay on the ground unable to protect himself."
League spokesman Greg Aiello weighed in on the decision via Twitter.
.@hblodget No. Mr. Suh didn't win his appeal. Ted Cottrell did not accept the excuse. He decided the apropriate discipline was a $70K fine.— Greg Aiello (@gregaiello) December 31, 2014
Suh considered the appeal hearing so important that he attended it at the league office in New York, league sources said.
Suh explained his conduct to Cottrell and answered questions directly.
His reasoning, however, was met with sarcasm on Twitter by former Lions offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, who is now with the Giants.
Mr official, my hands were frozen, otherwise I wouldn't have held that guy. Totally using that next season.— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) December 31, 2014
Cottrell agreed with league official Merton Hanks that Suh committed a violation of the player-safety policy in stepping on Rodgers but reduced the penalty, the sources said.
Suh was immediately able to rejoin the Lions to prepare for Sunday's game featuring the NFL's top-ranked run defense against league rushing champion DeMarco Murray, and he was seen at the Lions' practice facility Tuesday, sources said.
Although Rodgers did not say explicitly that he thought Suh's actions were intentional, he did have serious doubts as to how they could be viewed as accidental.
"The only thing I can say is if you step on something in your everyday life or if you step on somebody on the field," Rodgers said Tuesday. "The first reaction seems to be looking back and maybe apologizing with your hands or maybe pulling your foot back right away, and I'm just not sure that's what happened on Sunday."
A new formula removed Suh from the "repeat offender" list after Week 16. Suh's last violation was in Week 1 of 2013, when he was fined $100,000 for an illegal chop block on Vikings center John Sullivan. That was the biggest fine in NFL history for on-field conduct.
According to NFL rules, a player who goes 32 games (including a maximum of two preseason games) without a violation is removed from the list.
Thus, his history as a repeat offender was never cited in this week's case.
Suh had been fined eight previous times and has one previous suspension, for two games in 2011, for stepping on the right arm of Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. This is his first fine for 2014.
For his career, Suh has been fined over $200,000 by the NFL, and his 38 penalties are the second-most by a defensive lineman since 2010, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
ESPN's Ed Werder, Chris Mortensen and ESPN.com Detroit Lions reporter Michael Rothstein and Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.