Merton Hanks: I fined Ndamukong Suh to get his attention


NFL Vice President of Operations Merton Hanks, the man who fines players for on-field misconduct, says he wanted to do something this week to make Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh take notice.

Hanks admits that Suh’s hit on Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden on Sunday was “not an egregious play,” but Hanks fined Suh $31,500 because he thinks it’s time that Suh pays attention to the league’s efforts to make the game safer.

“The fine is more than the minimum because he is a repeat offender and I wanted to get Ndamukong Suh’s attention in this regard. I’ve got to help him course correct,” Hanks told Andrea Kremer of NFL Network.

Hanks, who was a Pro Bowl cornerback for the 49ers in the 1990s, believes that Suh should have been flagged for roughing the passer on the play in question. But the referee had a clear view of the play and didn’t throw his flag. Maybe in addition to getting Suh’s attention, the league office needs to get the referees’ attention to clear up what does and does not constitute roughing the passer.

109 responses to “Merton Hanks: I fined Ndamukong Suh to get his attention

  1. Imagine if Police Officers gave out $30K+ tickets at their own whim, and when asked to justify their decision – said words to the effect, “The driver didn’t really do anything that bad – but I wanted to get the driver’s attention.”

  2. Gee Merton, would you be doing this if Suh was a 49er?! My guess is, no chance!
    Time for the Ford family to stand up and open their mouths regarding this insanity.
    If certain hits are now only illegal when done by certain players, this league has lost all it’s credibility….well, whatever they had left after the recent revelations regarding concussions!

  3. Nice start. Unfortunately $31K isn’t going to do much to deter Suh. For course correction, he needs multiple game suspensions for his particularly aggregious actions, such as stomping and kicking. If that doesn’t work, make it a season. I’d throw in there that an anger management class might help, but then you’d have to enroll the whole league!

  4. It is sad and unbelievable to me that there is so much subjective weight put on fines. It is worse that a former player like Hanks can say with a straight face that this should have been roughing the passer. Sub has earned his reputation and that is well documented but we have crossed the common sense threshold by a good distance here. It’s a pity the course the nfl is on. Time to jump on the cfl bandwagon before it fills up.

  5. Giving him a fine to send a message helps build the repeat offender status.

    Wash, spin, dry, repeat.

    Formula of Merton’s self fulfilling prophecy at work.

  6. I hope Suh appeals. He is clearly being targeted by the NFL. Maybe the NFL should train Hanks to see what was Clearly a legal hit.

  7. Honestly is the NFLPA okay with this? Seems wrong especially since the ref didn’t flag. This feels like extreme targeting how is this man supposed tackle exactly?

  8. It would be a lot easier to get the attention of the referees to clearly define the rules if they were full-time employees. It amazes me that a multi-billion $ operation cedes game-day control of their product to part-timers.

    Full-timers could spend a day or two being briefed on players & situations. If the league wants problem players, like Suh, to be given extra scrutiny, that could be made clear. There could be game situation drills. The players practice and study, as a group, to function better as a team, why not officials? I think we’d see a much more consistent state of officiating if they did.

  9. blackdb says: Oct 19, 2013 7:49 AM

    I hope Suh appeals. He is clearly being targeted by the NFL. Maybe the NFL should train Hanks to see what was Clearly a legal hit.


    Why shouldn’t he be targeted? He’s a multiple repeat offender with a track record of stuff that is way beyond the lines. It’s no different than someone fresh out of prison being placed on probation and treated differently than law abiding citizens.

  10. The NFLPA really needs to step in and fight on Suh’s behalf for this fine. They are profiling at this point, and instead of being vague and circuitous about it, they are simply coming out and saying it. Suh has been fined for his actions in the past, many very appropriately, but this season has been ridiculous. He gets a $100k fine for what was a legal block last year, he has an innocuous play reviewed over a week after it happened (that wasn’t flagged), and then gets a $31k fine for a non-flagged hit that anyone with a first grade education can tell was not something that should be fined. Suh is a phenomenal talent, a player that has crossed the line at times with his over-aggressive play but appears to be improving on the ‘after the whistle’ activities that he has gotten notoriety for in the past. Despite my obvious bias as a lions fan, and despite the fact that he makes an exorbitant salary, this really needs to end. I know it generates fodder for the sports talk shows, and it puts the NFL in the headlines in yet another way, but just stop.

  11. Hanks need to be fired, he clearly isn’t a mature enough individual to handle a position of such responsibility.

  12. Browns fan here. I think Suh is a jerk but this was a legal hit. Hanks is way out of line, not only for the fine in the first place, but this ridiculous explanation. Cue NFLPA. The difference with Harrison is he kept making ILLEGAL head shots. this doesn’t even come close.

  13. Fining someone for doing nothing wrong isn’t the way to get someone to “take notice”. Hanks’ pompous attempt to pretend to be Solomon is an abject failure and is hurting the game. Suh has done his share of wrong on the field but, when you add this to the fact they penalized him for shoving Cutler in the back (not the neck or head) and also for grabbing a runners’ hair that cascaded down from his helmet (while calling it an illegal tackle), then there appears to be an overzealous element residing in the NFL offices.

    Also, Dean Blandino seems to be nothing more than an administrative nitwit – and that’s unfortunate for all NFL fans. If every player were fined for making a similar play last weekend you could almost defend Hanks’ position – but alas that’s not what happened. Hanks allowed the other similar hits to go unpunished and decided to single-out Suh. When Suh is wrong – he’s wrong. But, this is going too far. The game is spiraling downward.

  14. Suh should get a lawyer and fight this fine in court, a legal precedent needs to be set…….

  15. It’s not like things are any different now. Suh’s first major offense was the 30k for his stomp–compared to 20k for Brian Robison’s blatant kick to the nuts and to 20k for Broderick Bunkley’s kick to the head of Alex Boone.No doubt Suh has crossed the line before with his play, but so do a dozen other guys every weekend.

    I’m not at all surprised by the selective discipline by the league given it’s history, I am, however, shocked that they admit it. Seems like the NFLPA has would they need now to blow up this subjective fine schedule.

  16. Two similar hits, one on Stafford and one on Weeden in the same game against the Browns. The only difference is that Cleveland’s Groves made contact to Stafford’s head, and Suh hit Weeden in the chest and avoided contact with his head. For that effort Mr. Suh, you get a $31K fine, and Groves you don’t get any fine. What a joke.

  17. Regarding the selective discipline–remember Brandon Marshall getting 10k for the orange shoes….then last week(or was it 2?) Marshawn Lynch, as a repeat offender, gets $5200 from the league for his ‘non team color shoes’.

    League discipline is subjective and targeted. There is zero doubt.

  18. Attention for what? He led with his shoulder and shoved him down. It was completely legal.

  19. Wow. Just watched that play on youtube, all I have to say is – Defense – RIP
    If that was a finable hit, I really don’t know what defenses can do any more.
    Do the defenders say?
    “Sir – may I please ask you to lay down in a fetal position?”
    “You’ve already thrown a gazillion TDs, may I have this one, please?”

  20. It was stupid to fine Suh $100,000 for an illegal block. There are over a hundred penalties every game day that don’t result in fines.

  21. This has become a joke.

    Bill Ford needs to start a conversation among the team owners about replacing the commissioner. This man is ruining a great game.

    I can’t watch a pass play without anticipating a flag – because the rules for a fair catch are so convoluted.

    I can’t watch a QB sack without looking for a flag, for the same reason.

    I can’t watch the game without looking for the influence of the lawyers.

    The commissioner needs to go, and Hanks along with him.

  22. Suh is being treated differently than other employees in the NFL.

    This is a classic example of DISCRIMINATION!

    Suh should not fight it within the CBA – Suh should file legal action in Federal Court for discrimination.

  23. I loathe Suh but this seems like an artificially generated and self satisfying fine by the league.

    And you forgot the part where Merton Hanks talks about the rules changes to flag football that are coming soon.


  24. There’s much cheaper ways to get his attention…like a phone call. Or maybe you could borrow Elway’s fax machine.

  25. I’m just trying to understand Hanks’ reasoning on this. He basically says,

    1. Suh broke a rule and should’ve been flagged
    2. He didn’t do anything that was worthy of a fine.
    3. I’m going to fine him for it anyway.

    Why not just fine guys for any penalty whatsoever if that’s the reasoning behind it. This is completely baffling. Suh needs to get the union involved on this one. He may have a bad reputation, but he still has rights. The union’s job is to defend those rights, and this seems like a case in which those have been violated.

  26. What seems to get lost in this bs every time is that Suh did NOT create a history of illegal hits! The nfl created that by fining him for several hits that were not illegal! The Cutler tackle/shove was NOT an illegal play by any means. The hair grabbing tackle Suh made that also was fined is NOT an illegal tackle. This trail of fines is littered with instances that should NOT have been fined in the first place………wtf???

  27. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Oct 19, 2013 7:44 AM
    Imagine if Police Officers gave out $30K+ tickets at their own whim, and when asked to justify their decision – said words to the effect, “The driver didn’t really do anything that bad – but I wanted to get the driver’s attention.”
    There is a mountain sized flaw in your analogy, the referees(police officers) aren’t handing out the fines and suspensions, it’s the NFL Vice President of Operations Merton Hanks. I would consider him the “judge” since that is essentially what his role seems to be in this scenario and in real life it is the judge that hands out the penalties that involve fines or suspension as is the case here. And again, in real life the judge increases fines or suspensions or both as each new infraction comes to light as, again, seems to be the case here.

  28. He clearly says that Suh did something wrong and that he should’ve been flagged by the refs in the game. I guess Suh needs to take notice that while getting a flag on the field is a fairly objective 15 yards, the league office has little more flexibility in their ability to mete out punishment to players who have proven to play with disregard for the safety and well-being of other players. I have no problem with Hanks making the attempt to help Suh “course correct.” if only every other person associated with Suh was so proactive, it might save another player’s career.

  29. That hit didn’t deserve a penalty and sure as hell didn’t deserve a fine.

    What are defenders supposed to do?

  30. Suh has earned the reputation he has from a couple stupid plays on the field. Some of that reputation has been given to him by stuff like this. Suh did nothing wrong, but he got a huge fine. The league has built much of his reputation by singling him out on stuff like this. The Thanksgiving stomp and Dalton throw down were legitimately wrong, but most of the others are the result of the league “sending a message”. If he steps out of line then deal with it. Fining him for fair, legal play that is close to the line is just plain wrong.

  31. So let me get this straight… The NFLPA will go to bat to make sure that the murderer Aaron Hernandez gets paid his workout bonus but they won’t stand up for this BS fine for a legal, non-flagged hit?

    Someone needs a re-prioritization.

  32. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says:
    Oct 19, 2013 7:44 AM
    Imagine if Police Officers gave out $30K+ tickets at their own whim, and when asked to justify their decision – said words to the effect, “The driver didn’t really do anything that bad – but I wanted to get the driver’s attention.”

    It’s not a 30k fine, but the police in my area are definitely do this.

  33. So now they are fining if even the hit was clean. What are you getting his attention to? The NFLPA better be all over this.

  34. The NFL dug themselves into a hole with the fine in the first place and probably didn’t expect the critiscm they’re getting.

    But with a a comment like this Hanks is digging himself even deeper.

    This statement essentially states there was no foul at the time, no replay confirms it was an illegal play but “I just felt like fining Suh cos I think he needs it in my opinion”.

    There is an NFL rulebook I believe, I don’t think the game is played and officiated according to M Hanks opinions or whims but by paid officials.

    I hope this continues, next thing Hanks will start to overule plays and results cos he thinks the game needs teaching a lesson.

    Keep digging Merton….

  35. 69 11
    hscorpio says:
    Oct 19, 2013 8:04 AM

    Why shouldn’t he be targeted? He’s a multiple repeat offender with a track record of stuff that is way beyond the lines. It’s no different than someone fresh out of prison being placed on probation and treated differently than law abiding citizens.
    Why shouldn’t he be targeted? How about because NOTHING about the hit was illegal. Also, under your dubious logic (“He’s a multiple repeat offender with a track record of stuff that is way beyond the lines), Suh should be fined/disciplined for every tackle he makes. AGAIN, the hit on Weeden was legal. BTW.

  36. You kinda have to read and comprehend the entire article… Hanks absolutely says the hit was clearly “roughing the passer”… he only says it wasn’t “egregious”. It’s still within his purview to fine the hit. Hanks did nothing wrong or outside of his authority.

  37. Rules violations fall into one of two categories: egregious or non-egregious. The NFL has been fining players for egregious violations for years. However, Hanks has just said that the NFL, if it has an interest in doing so, can fine a player for a non-egregious on-field rule violation. If that’s true, then the League has essentially unlimited authority to fine players so long as they can articulate some interest in doing so. If you want to send Suh a message that he needs to play by the rules, why not fine him the next time he jumps offsides? After all, encroachment is a non-egregious on-field rule violation, and those are apparently fair game. I don’t see how the NFLPA can not get involved here.

  38. The problem I have with this is that they fined him for the wrong play. He hit Weeden with a forearm (basically a clothesline) to the head on another play. That’s the one that should have fined.

  39. I agree something needs to be done on Suh’s attitude on the field but the league office needs to be investigated as well. They back down from players that were getting paid to hurt NFL players, they allow an organization to get away with cheating and were caught. They pick in choose behind closed doors on who they want to target instead of being consistent in any punishment they hand out. Now you want to get a players attention when the rest of us have noticed Suh’s actions for a few years now. What a statement Mr Hanks, but we have come to expect this.

  40. Yes, Suh is very dirty player, but I don’t see how the appeals board can accept this fine. Merton Hanks, be prepared to be sued by Suh.

  41. I think Merton Hanks suffered his own head injuries multiple times from the stupid funky chicken dance he used to do! Should someone with so many injuries be a in a postion to decide what’s right and wrong.
    Not only that, he fined him to get his attention,Reallt!?!.
    I personally think Sue should go to Hanks office and spear him full force, just to get his attention.
    Hanks and Goodell are both jokes!

  42. Any system of discipline must have credibility and be administered with integrity. That requires that similar conduct receive similar discipline. The NFLs current system lacks integrity, and for that the NFL should be ashamed.

  43. Does PFT purposely choose the photos where Suh looks smug or upset. He has other looks you know?

  44. bradyisbest says:
    Oct 19, 2013 8:15 AM
    is it me,or did merton hanks neck look like it was about 8-12 inches above his pads when he played?

    My friends and I always called him Bottle Neck. You know, long necks. Dude owes his career to Deion though.

  45. The amount of idiots here who dont think for themselves is astounding…if you cant objectively look at this and not see the wrong in it…wow

  46. At this rate, Suh might as well drill hill head into the QB, injure them for the season, and take a fine. Lost all respect for Hanks now, that was a legal hit, forearm to the chest.

  47. I dont like Suh. He is borderline dirty. BUT he is getting hosed. Its BS this idiot fined him. In fact since he opened his mouth, it appears to me theres a definite bais.

  48. I think everybody needs to shut the hevk up about Suh. The guys has bee. trained his whole life to play football one way and that’s all out! Yeah I’ll admit he goes overboard sometimes and costs his team some yards but that’s part of his game. You didn’t cry about Barry when he ran for no gain of lost yards 3 plays in a row. If the NFL wants to make an example out of Suh that’s fine. But at least make sure the play is illegal first.

  49. People that saw the hit as roughing the passer never played the game at any level—that would include Blandino. People that did play and saw roughing are biased idiots—and that group includes Hanks.

  50. There seems to be a concerted effort from the Nfl and PFT to discredit Suh any chance they can get. I am tired of the witch hunt in the new soft nfl. Its all offense, no more defense. I am tired of the new direction this Nancy Football league has taken

  51. Umm wouldn’t this potentially have the opposite effect? If Suh thinks he is gonna get fined either way then is he really going to go the less physical route? If you want to change the way he plays, give him some of his “fines” back for good clean legal hits…but I guess that would make it a bounty program…

  52. If an $100,000 fine doesn’t get his attention nothing else will short of suspensions.

    Stop being wimps and start suspending the ass without pay.

  53. I amazed that he just admitted this. Even if that is why you fined him, which I don’t agree with regardless of player or team, that fact that you just admitted to targeting a team/player kills any credibility, objectivity, or goodwill you might have had.


  54. I give a lot of credits to the refs in that game for NOT flagging that hit. It shouldn’t have been flagged – it was clean: the definition of a great “no call.”

  55. The NFL is becoming just as crooked as the NBA! Bogus fines to bogus flag’s all to make sure they put in the super bowl who they can market the most! The NBA used Delaney as there fall guy! Who’s the NFL going to use?

  56. Next time Suh gets at a QB……just two hand touch the QB….because that is where this league is headed. Why be a defensive player when you must forfeit some of your paycheck every week. Screw it. Safeties can’t tackle outside the tiny strike zone….so screw it…two hand touch. Minny and the NYG should play 2 hand touch on Monday to get the nations attention about the pussification of the sport

  57. as a huge fan of the 90’s long neck players(Harvey Williams, Merton Hanks) I have to jump in here and say wtf man!

    Merton hanks did not play corner for the 49ers, he was a pro bowl SAFETY. at least get the facts right

  58. I’m all for fining players for cheap hits, but if it wasn’t flagged, that should be on the ref, as was mentioned in the mentioned in the article. He should get a fine.

  59. So based on what Hanks is telling officials you can’t touch a quarterback’s legs or hit him below the waist, and you can’t hit him hard anywhere else if your last name is Suh.

    Imagine if they had treated LT, Warren Sapp, Bruce Smith, or Reggie White this way. Think of all the great football we would have missed. Take it a step further to hard hitting LBs or Safeties like Ray Lewis, Brian Dawkins, Ronnie Lott and the game really stops being interesting. We need to stop Hanks before he kills the game.

  60. I’m all or fining the really bad hits. I am also in favor of fining the referees everytime a player is fined for a hit that did NOT draw a flag on the field. If the hit is enough to draw a fine, then it should draw a flag first. The refs needs to be held accountable for their missed calls.

  61. this “the ref should have to see it” idea is crazy.

    if the refs miss a guy throwing punches, then the league looks the other way? cmon. it has absolutely nothing to do with the refs, and shouldn’t. they have the tape to look at what they want, the refs job is not only to look out for personal fouls and fine related hits. its their job to keep the game running.

  62. That idiot Suh SAID he would not change the way he plays. He’s an idiot and the only way to get to him is through fines and suspensions

  63. NFL…. in another comment board, someone said “National Fine League”. I think that is an apt description. They are throwing around fines like candy. Game is so overregulated now that I have grown more and more disinterested. I maybe watched all of 3 complete games this season. Sad really. I really enjoyed pro football too.

  64. I’m getting really sick of hearing it’s Suh that has brought him on himself for past sins or as a “repeat” offender.

    The Dalton fine was appropriate, but let’s keep in mind that this was his rookie year in the preseason no less… Other than that the only other legitimate fine was “The Stomp” Suh lost his cool and it cost him, as it should have.

    Then there are the two fines levied for “Intent” neither of which should have drawn a fine. I’m talking about the “The Kick” and the “The Chop”.

    Finally you have 3 perfectly legal plays being fined “The Shove”, “The Horse collar” and “The Shove 2.0”.

    Surely the only LEGITIMATE past sins or repeat offenses are not enough to warrant the unfair treatment that Suh has garnered. The only thing that is being repeated is the ineptitude of the Neo-McCarthyism Favoritism League. It’s extremley obvious that even after trying to play smarter and limiting his personal fouls to one in 2012, the NFL still insists on continuing the Witch Hunt against Suh, after dubbing him and the Lions “Evil”.

    When does this crap stop? The only thing that needs a “Course Correction” is the NFL, and they need to start by canning Hanks.

  65. Where the heck is the NFLPA??? Why aren’t they defending Suh like he is paying them too? Instead of defending a legitimate case they are out filing grievances to get Aaron Hernandez payed while on trial for murder!

    Why the heck do the players put up with a players association that isn’t standing up for what they should be and instead stands up for things they shouldn’t?

  66. Not a big suh fan but this is a freaking joke . Boarder line criminal. Is what it is.

  67. For all of those fans saying who cares if suh gets targeted , just remember those same fans were saying it when James Harrison was the scapegoat for Goodell. Sooner or later a player on your team will have a bad hit, and then every hit that player makes after that, he will be looked at as dirty, and he will be Goodells scapegoat. The league doesn’t care who it is, they just have to have a villain, so they can say they are being proactive about player safety. Of course all the while they have meetings about 18 game seasons, and dowling up Thursday night games, and not really caring about the safety of anyone who is t a receiver or QB.

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