Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/13/13
Ndamukong Suh wants to move on. He says he doesn’t want to dwell on the past even as it catches up to him — again. His head coach Jim Schwartz was saying the same Wednesday a day after Suh the Lions’ Pro Bowl defensive tackle was fined $100000 by the NFL for an illegal block in Sunday’s season-opening win against the Vikings. Here’s the problem though: Suh can appeal the fine as he is — and as he should. Frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a slightly discounted rate in the end. But he can’t escape his past — at least not for the foreseeable future — any more than the Lions can escape their own. And trying to separate the two — the star player and his coach the individual and the team perception from reality the past from the present — isn’t just an exercise in futility. It’s also the kind of dissociative behavior that got them in trouble in the first place enabling the reckless play that earned Suh a league-wide reputation as a dirty player and the Lions a bad-boy image that has become synonymous with Schwartz’s tenure in Detroit. Like it or not fair or unfair those are labels that stick. They also come with warnings however and to whatever extent the Lions ignored them they did so at their own future expense. Suh the No. 2 overall pick in 2010 was fined five times in his first two NFL seasons even before he was slapped with a two-game suspension for his infamous Thanksgiving Day stomp of the Packers’ Evan Dietrich-Smith in 2011. And it was painfully clear in the response to some of those incidents — both from Suh and his superiors — that the message wasn’t getting through. Martin Mayhew the Lions general manager admitted as much after the 2011 season saying “Looking back on it probably not enough people talked to him in those situations.” Schwartz for his part never acknowledged that. Suh’s defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham really didn’t either. As the latter put it back in August 2011 shortly after Suh was fined $20000 for a preseason hit on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton “The problem with the league is they’ve never seen a tackle like this. That’s their problem.” Maybe so but the Lions’ problems run deeper than that. Because just like Suh who’s undoubtedly facing another suspension the next time he’s subject to supplementary discipline their fist-pumping chest-bumping Tom Brady-taunting challenge flag-throwing reputation precedes them. And follows them like a shadow. The Lions lead the league with 116 personal-foul penalties since 2009 when Schwartz and his staff took over in Detroit according to STATS LLC. (The Eagles are a distant second with 99 in that span.) And while the Lions cut their season total from 37 and 35 in 2010 and ’11 respectively to 21 last season I’m not sure anyone cared to notice especially after a 4-12 finish that followed a rash of offseason player arrests.
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