- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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This shouldn’t be a surprise.
Not when the NFL made it a point to levy the largest in-game fine in league history on Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh last month for a low block on John Sullivan. Not when, after his appeal, it took weeks for a decision to come out.
No, it shouldn’t be a shock at all that the NFL upheld the $100,000 fine it gave Suh last month, according to the Associated Press. There was a reason behind it.
And the league, mediators or not, was not going to let that fall to the wayside. The NFL is trying to curb excessive violence in the game and trying to send a strong message to one of its most well-known players that questionable antics will not be tolerated.
Not when there is a history of fines with Suh and a lengthy list of quarterbacks and other players affected by it. Jay Cutler. Andy Dalton. Evan Dietrich-Smith. Jake Delhomme. Matt Schaub. All have been hit in some manner or fashion by Suh that led him to be fined.
Suh had some umbrage with the fine, although he would not discuss publicly whether he felt the fine was fair or not. His agent, Roosevelt Barnes, told ESPN.com at the time Suh is “an easy target” for the NFL.
Except he is and he isn’t.
According to numbers culled from ESPN Stats & Information, Suh has committed 23 penalties in his 52 NFL games, averaging out to roughly one every other game. So he isn’t a penalty-creating, drive-extending, problematic guy for the Lions. It’s just when he does commit a penalty, it often ends up as something questionable.
If the league were really going after Suh hard, there would have been a fine for what appeared to be an inadvertent elbow to the head of Arizona offensive lineman Eric Winston in Week 2. Or the NFL would have fined him for a tripping penalty last Sunday against Green Bay -- a play on which it looked like Suh was held more than he tripped anyone.
Instead, the NFL is focusing on the plays Suh makes that are questionable, that show his history. The ones that don’t belong in professional football. That is what the NFL appears to be going after.
By upholding his record fine, the message the league appears to be sending is: Play hard and within the rules, you’ll be fine. You’ll thrive. Don’t, and the NFL will find you and fine you time and time again.