In the very near future, the NFL will determine the sanction to be imposed on Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for his stunning stomping of Packers guard Evans Dietrich-Smith. And Suh’s refusal to express remorse or accept blame won’t help him.
The process will commence with Ray Anderson and Merton Hanks from the league office determining the proper penalty. It can be a fine, it can be a suspension, or it can be both. Suh’s history of fines for on-field infractions will be a factor, since repeat offenders typically receive higher levels of discipline.
The league internal rules require each case to be evaluated based on its own facts and circumstances, which “includes determining whether the infraction occurred during the normal course of a game or outside the normal course of a game.” Flagrant, unnecessary, avoidable, and gratuitous actions are regarded as being beyond the course of a game, and Suh’s actions — pushing Dietrich-Smith’s helmet into the ground and then stomping on him — put him in line for enhanced penalties.
Suh will be informed of the decision no later than Tuesday. If Suh, or his agent, choose to disclose the information, the rest of us will know about it at some point thereafter. Typically, the NFL makes the information available upon specific request on Friday . As a result, we’ll know within a week whether and to what extent Suh will be suspended.
A suspension doesn’t mean that Suh will miss next Sunday’s game against the Saints, which will be televised in primetime by NBC. Instead, if Suh exercises his appeal rights (he’ll have three days), he’ll be able to delay the suspension by a week or two, depending on the time required to resolve the appeal.
Either way, a refusal by Suh to admit that he was wrong will hurt him, either when the decision is made by the league office or when the men who handle the appeals — Art Shell or Ted Cotrell — consider whether Suh can make a persuasive case for lenience. Any assertion that conflicts with the obvious evidence captured on tape will keep Suh from catching a break, either before the men who will make the decision in the first instance, or before the men who will review that decision.