During the regular season finale pitting the Detroit Lions against the Green Bay Packers, a lot of things happened. The game featured a little bit of everything. There were some terrific plays, some bone-headed ones, and pretty much everything else in between.
Yet one particular play, that will likely fly under the radar, especially in the Detroit area, jumped out at yours truly. It involved Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
It's no big secret Suh has a history of thuggish behavior on the field. Though his infamous "stomp" on a fallen Green Bay Packer lineman a few years ago is his biggest claim to shame, it's not like he hasn't dished out other cheap, and potentially life and limb threatening cheap shots along the way. One doesn't try to wring an opposing quarterback's neck like a chicken unless one has absolutely no moral compass on the field of play. Such an act, amongst others, could be likened to sociopathic, even psychopathic tendencies. Yes, the NFL, by its very nature, is a violent game. High speed collisions between players happen on most every play, and people will get hurt -- sometimes seriously. It goes with the territory, and all the players know and willingly accept that reality. But somewhere there's a line between playing hard and intentionally trying to cause undue injury to an opponent. Especially when such acts serve no other purpose in the course of a game than trying to disable another player.
Suh was up to his not-so-good tricks again at Lambeau Field. Everyone in the NFL universe knew Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a lingering left calf injury. Though the Packers' staff and medical personnel had worked feverishly throughout the week to get him ready for the game, it was obvious Rodgers was still a bit gimpy. For that matter, on an innocent enough play, Rodgers re-aggravated his injury and had to briefly leave the game. What they do in NFL locker rooms for injured players remains akin to "eyes only" top secret information at the highest levels of government. Needless to say, this has never been, and never will be shared with the public. Let's just say if there's any way possible to quickly get an injured player back on the field, especially a star, they'll find it.
Rodgers would indeed return, and eventually lead the Packers to victory. But along the way, the "play" mentioned above happened. Rodgers had been knocked to the turf after he threw a pass. It happens all the time to quarterbacks. But what happened next is where Suh came in. Again.
As Rodgers was lying on the turf, Suh stepped on -- guess where -- the very same left calf that he and everybody else knew was ailing the Green Bay quarterback. All 305 pounds of him. Rodgers grimaced in pain.
Was it intentional? Suh will likely forever deny it, but he originally denied his more infamous stomp until overwhelming video evidence proved his guilt.
In the case at hand, at that point Suh could possibly have been given the benefit of the doubt. People get "accidentally" stepped on all the time in the NFL. It was just a coincidence the guy with the history of goonish behavior just "happened" to walk on the exact same body part he and everybody else knew was already ailing Rodgers.
But what happened next was telling. While the action was happening down the field, Suh managed to step on the very same calf with his OTHER foot. It was pretty slick, and no penalty flag was thrown, but it was still meant to cause injury.
Look at it this way. If a normal person, or any other animal for that matter, steps on something, their instinctive reaction is to look down to see what it is. They don't just step on it with their other foot and keep moving along like it never happened without having checked it out. But that's what Suh did to Rodgers. Ndummy will likely maintain he had no idea that Rodgers was at his feet, and stepping on his injured calf not once, but twice, was purely an accident.
And if you believe that -- then you must be a hard-core Lions fan. Because if Suh was playing for any other team than yours, and pulled the same act of thuggery against Matthew Stafford, I dare say you'd be screaming bloody murder. Funny, or maybe not, how fans can embrace thugs, as long as they're on their team. Ironically, Suh will be a free agent after this year and might well wind up elsewhere starting next year. Will Detroit fans still think they same way of him in hindsight? If Suh comes back in a future game to physically trash one of their own, will the Honolulu blue and silver faithful fondly remember his presence as a Lion and give him a pass? I don't think so. Who's kidding who?
But make no mistake. A thug is a thug, regardless of what team he plays for, especially one with a rap sheet as long as Suh's. It's almost scary how mild-mannered and gentlemanly Suh can present himself as when talking to the media. But the demon continues to lurk not far beneath the surface. The dude's going to be 28 years old next week, and if he hasn't changed his ways by now -- he never will. It just is what it is.
Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has remained a literary classic since he wrote it in 1886. The mild-mannered doctor who would occasionally turn into a monster. We've all heard of "split personalities", sometimes known as dissociative identity disorder, where within one body two vastly different personalities can exist. One is good, the other evil.
That's all well and good in the world of literature, and even sometimes briefly tolerable in the world of significant others and politicians, but has its limits when it comes to intentional mayhem on the football field.
In any case, enough is enough, and Suh has proven himself to be too much. He's getting slicker with his cheap shots, so as not to raise the public awareness as he once did. But their is no doubt the Mr. Hyde in him rages on.
It's outrageous in one way -- but mostly just sad.