For the umpteenth time this season, the National Football League has taken yet another blow to the head office, by screwing up what should be a fairly easy judgment call in Sunday’s Ndamukong Suh/Aaron Rodgers incident. This year fans have seen the league make poor calls followed by embarrassing reversals on Ray Rice (domestic violence), Adrian Peterson (child abuse), incomprehensible rule changes and their confusing, inconsistent interpretations, and various misapplied or delayed disciplinary actions towards player violations. The latest of these imbroglios is the Suh suspension reversal.
Note to Commissioner Goodell; before you get too aroused by globalizing the NFL with a franchise in London or other overseas locales, you had better fix what’s wrong at home. Note to NFL owners; if your current commissioner can’t handle common-sense judgment calls on a day-to-day basis, get a better one. You may be awash in dollars due to savvy marketing and product cachet, but those dollars will dry up quickly when enough loyal fans come to believe that the lipstick on your pigskin ain’t covering the ugliness anymore. The Suh/Rodgers idiocy is only the latest example of the league’s inability to make sensible policy.
Only the most imaginative deniers are capable of believing that habitual violator Suh’s trampling of prostrate quarterback Rodgers’ Sunday was ‘innocent happenstance’. The film shows Suh walking backwards, stepping on the fallen Rodgers’ lower leg, rising up to put his full 307-pound weight on the cleat under which Rodgers‘ ankle is pinned. Suh seems oblivious to the ‘lumpy field‘, even after Rodgers whacks him on the back of the leg. To their credit, the league did suspend the habitual offender for a playoff game. However, like a lot of the league’s actions this year, there was a maddening inconsistency to the application, and an eventual reversal.
The reversal was due to another insipid league conduct policy, modified this year so that any player with repeat violations of on-field misconduct could get their record ‘wiped clean’ by 32 consecutive games (including preseason & postseason) without an infraction….a policy which screams ‘Dumbass’, and puts other players at risk of injury, possibly career-ending ones, as Jeremy Schaap said of Suh once.
Expunging the history of a player who has piled up a record ten serious infractions in five years against his fellow players is absurd. These aren’t love taps or incidental contacts, either. Search the word ‘Suh’ on YouTube, and you will find abundant video footage of him stomping on the limbs of fallen players, wrenching players’ heads around by their facemasks, kicking quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin, and slamming other players’ heads on the turf. None of these is a standard ’football play’, Mr. Goodell. So Suh avoids committing a major violation for a little over one year (EXACTLY 32 games), and he’s treated as a first-time offender? Sorry, but that fails the stink test.
It is any contact-sport’s responsibility to police its players, with the goal of providing an environment where quality of play is elevated and goonery minimized. Would the league have shown some stones with Suh if Rodgers’ season had ended? He (Rodgers) is arguably the ‘face of the league’ as its marquee player, and while Suh’s defensive dominance places him in the spotlight as well, his established penchant for non-football viciousness against other players does nothing to enhance the NFL’s image.
It’s high time the NFL’s head office had a check-up from the neck up.