In the days since Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh pushed the helmet of Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith into the ground and then stomped on his arm while walking away, a sense has emerged that Suh should receiving a suspension of two or more games, given his history and the egregious nature of his conduct.
But a multi-game suspension may not happen, given the history of suspensions for on-field conduct meted out by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Apart from the five-game suspension received in 2006 by former Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (who coincidentally returns to Tennessee today in his third game with the Buccaneers), no player has been suspended for more than one game by Goodell, via Gene Washington.
The following year, Goodell (via Washington) suspended former Cowboys safety Roy Williams one game after his third horse-collar tackle of the season.
The next year, Goodell (via Ray Anderson) suspended Buccaneers defensive back Elbert Mack one game for launching himself and making helmet-to-helmet contact with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan; it was Mack’s second flagrant hit in three games. Also in 2008, Jets safety Eric Smith received a one-game suspension and a $50,000 fine for a flagrant helmet-to-helmet hit on then-Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin.
In 2009, Goodell (again via Ray Anderson) suspended Dante Wesley of the Panthers for launching at Bucs punt returner Clifton Smith while he was waiting to catch the ball. Wesley struck Smith in the head with a shoulder and forearm.
Again, Suh’s history of fines will be a factor, and his failure to express genuine remorse won’t help him. Balanced against that will be the fact that he already has essentially been suspended for nearly half of one game, since he was ejected early in the third quarter.
So don’t be surprised if Suh is suspended for only one game. Though he committed a Haynesworthy stomp, there’s a huge difference between stepping on a guy’s arm, which Suh did, and ripping off a player’s helmet and shredding his bare forehead with a cleat, which Haynesworth did.
But feel free to cast your own ballot below. It was the subject of the FRS poll question when yours truly hosted The Dan Patrick Show on Friday. Here’s another chance to sound off on what should happen.
UPDATE 10:35 a.m. ET: When posting this I didn’t realize that our good friend Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com has posted similar information. Here’s the link to Freeman’s take.