Detroit Lions' Ndamukong Suh to miss playoff game after NFL suspends him for stepping on Aaron Rodgers' leg

December 29, 2014

In a major blow to the Detroit Lions playoff hopes, star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been suspended without pay for this Sunday’s Wild Card playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys for a violation of safety-related playing rules in last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.

In the fourth quarter with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the ground in a defenseless posture, Suh backed up and stepped on Rodgers’ left leg with his right foot. He then stepped on Rodgers’ left leg again, this time with his left foot, applying pressure and unnecessarily pushing off Rodgers’ unprotected leg with his left foot, violating playing rules prohibiting unnecessary roughness.

Rodgers had previously left the game due to a leg injury, but returned in the second half.

The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks.  Hanks ruled that Suh engaged in a non-football act which placed his opponent, Rodgers, at unnecessary risk of injury – specifically the second step and push off, which could have been avoided.

Suh's act was not done with any particular viciousness, and seemed to be done in a somewhat nonchalant manner. However, given his reputation and past history of similar rules violations, the NFL was not going to give him the benefit of the doubt, and thus, viewed the incident as a deliberate act rather than an accident.

In his letter to Suh, Hanks noted, “You did not respond in the manner of someone who had lost his balance and accidentally contacted another player who was lying on the ground. This illegal contact, specifically the second step and push off with your left foot, clearly could have been avoided.”  Hanks further noted “you unnecessarily stepped on your opponent’s unprotected leg as he lay on the ground unable to protect himself.”

Without Suh, Detroit's defense could be vastly diminished.  Dallas has arguably the best offensive line in football and a dominant running game, and Suh's playmaking ability on the interior was expected to cause problems for the Cowboys' ball control offense.

Now that Suh is out of the picture, and with fellow Lions defensive lineman Nick Fairley also unlikely to play (knee injury), the Cowboys can really play to their strengths against a weakened Detroit front seven.

Suh will not be permitted to attend team meetings and functions; attend or watch practices; appear at the club’s facilities for any reason; attend press conferences; appear at the team’s January 4 game, or have contact with any club personnel except to arrange off-site medical treatment or rehabilitation. Suh will be reinstated on Monday, January 5.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either Derrick Brooks or Ted Cottrell, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.

By Staff of and news services

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