The six-figure fine was the largest in NFL history for on-field conduct, not including money lost by players due to suspensions. It surpassed the $87,500 Chicago Bears linebacker Bryan Cox was docked in 1996 for making an obscene gesture to a line judge and screaming obscenities.
Suh was fined for a sixth time in his four-year career on Sept. 10, two days after making an illegal block on Vikings center John Sullivan. He apologized to Sullivan, and to teammates for negating an interception return for a touchdown in Detroit’s season-opening win. A third-party arbitrator heard Suh’s appeal two-plus weeks ago.
“We’re disappointed that Ndamukong was fined at all and that it wasn’t reduced,” Barnes told The AP in a telephone interview Friday. “It is clear from the film, when you slow it down frame by frame, that Ndamukong was clearly in front of the player and that his head and shoulder, when he started off blocking him, were above the player’s waist. But because Ndamukong left his feet, he was going to hit the ground and was going to get tangled on the lower part of the player’s body.”
Detroit drafted Suh out of Nebraska with the No. 2 overall pick in 2010. His reputation for playing with a nasty streak started in his first season when he had an NFL-high five personal fouls. As a rookie, he was fined $7,500, for a roughing-the-passer penalty on Cleveland quarterback Jake Delhomme in a preseason game; $5,000 for attempting to gain leverage on a New York Jets player; and $15,000, for an unnecessary roughness penalty for a hit that referee Ed Hochuli called “an unnecessary non-football act,” on Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler.
The next season, he seemed to cement that poor reputation. He was docked $20,000 for slamming Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton after he had released the ball in a preseason game. And he lost $165,294 in pay during a two-game suspension for stomping on the right arm of Green Bay’s Evan Dietrich-Smith in a nationally televised game on Thanksgiving. Suh ended his season with four personal fouls, tied for sixth in the league.
In Detroit’s last showcase game on Thanksgiving, Suh was fined $30,000 for a kick to the groin of Houston quarterback Matt Schaub after tumbling to the ground on a pass rush.
Since returning from the suspension in 2011, though, Suh has seemed to clean up his act a bit.
During a 20-game span that started after his stomp and ended in Week 1 of this season, he had been called for two personal fouls while 42 NFL players were called for more, according to STATS. He was tied for 105th in the league with one personal foul penalty last year, and was one of 41 players flagged for a person foul in Week 1 this season.
Suh has said he refuses to change his tough style, adding he plans to play “hard, blue-collar football.”
He is having one of his best seasons for the Lions, who play at Cleveland on Sunday in a matchup of 3-2 teams. He has 2 1/2 sacks, 17 tackles and a forced fumble in five games this year. Even when Suh doesn’t make a play that shows up in the box score, he often pushes the pocket on passing plays and takes on two blockers when teams run against the Lions.
And with a five-year contract worth up to $68 million, he can afford to pay the fines that have been levied against him.
“I guess the NFL is still trying to send a message with this fine,” Barnes said. “I just hope this doesn’t hurt his chances of being the defensive player of the year because he’s playing like one this season.”
NOTES: Detroit WR Calvin Johnson, who missed last weekend’s game with a right knee injury, was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. He was limited in practice Friday.