Suh’s reputation, though, has just taken a big hit and it will cost his team that is clinging to hopes of earning a spot in the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season.
The image-conscious player can try to work on his image and channeling his passion, but he won’t get off an unwanted list of players who have been suspended for on-field conduct during the Goodell era.
Most famously, Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was suspended for five games in 2006 for swiping his cleats across the head of helmetless Dallas center Andre Gurode.
Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams was forced to miss a game in 2007 after his third illegal horse-collar tackle of that season. Tampa Bay’s Elbert Mack had to sit out of a game during the 2008 season for a helmet-to-helmet blow, his second flagrant hit in three games. Eric Smith was suspended for a game that year for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Two years ago, Carolina’s Dante Wesley missed a game for a hit to the head.
“It’s a different game, covered differently these days,” said four-time Super Bowl winning linebacker Matt Millen, whose playing career started three decades ago with the Oakland Raiders. “What’s deemed crazy now, wasn’t crazy back in the day. Now more than ever, you have to keep your poise and control emotions when you feel like you have to retaliate. What you learn is, you don’t have to get back at the guy right then and that you’ve got time to take care of field justice.”
Hall of Fame defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene said he suspects Suh has learned a lesson.
“I hated for that to happen to him and I’m sure he does now, too,” Greene said. “With time, he’ll learn how to funnel his fire, but I hope he never loses that fire because he has to have it to play the position.”
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York contributed to this report.
Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage
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