In a confusing and unexpected twist to the Ndamukong Suh saga, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Suh plans to appeal the two-game suspension meted out by the league on Tuesday, but that he also plans to serve the first game of the punishment while the appeal is pending.
Schefter explains that Suh has been encouraged by the NFLPA to pursue the appeal, in order to ensure that players who engage in similar behavior won’t be suspended in the future. And that, of course, will do nothing to improve the current public perception of the NFLPA. Already suffering from the appearance that the NFLPA wants to protect HGH users by refusing to honor an agreement to conduct HGH testing, the NFLPA now risks developing a reputation for running interference for players who stomp on other players.
It’s odd that Suh would willingly miss a key game against the 8-3 Saints. Maybe the Lions and Suh realized after watching New Orleans’ performance last night against the Giants that it won’t matter if he plays. Or maybe Suh and/or the Lions have decided to adopt a bit of a passive-aggressive approach, taking the medicine in a manner that allows Suh to create a sense that he’s remorseful (despite his ridiculous comments from last Thursday) while also sticking it to the league by making one of the highest-profile players unavailable for a nationally-televised primetime game.
Either way, Suh is trying to have it both ways. He wants to fight the decision, but he also doesn’t want to be perceived as not taking responsibility. The best approach could be for the league and Suh to negotiate a one-game suspension in exchange for a waiver of his appeal rights, with the suspension being served in Week 14, when the Lions host the Vikings.
Maybe Suh’s stance is aimed at getting the league interested in just such a resolution.
UPDATE 3:02 p.m. ET: The letter sent by the league office to Suh promises an expedited hearing and a decision before Sunday’s game, if Suh appeals the suspension. Under the rules, however, Suh has three days to file his appeal. So he apparently could wait until Friday and necessarily delay the process past Sunday, allowing him to play against the Saints. We’re in the process of gathering more information regarding the league’s proposed timeline and the relevant terms of the CBA.