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Monday, November 26, 2012
NFL can't infer intent of Ndamukong Suh

By Kevin Seifert


When it came down to it, the NFL found itself in the same place as the rest of us in reviewing Ndamukong Suh's kick to the groin of Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. The league could only guess as to whether it was intentional, which is not enough to merit a suspension despite his long history of NFL discipline.

That's why on Monday the NFL informed the Detroit Lions that Suh won't be suspended as a result. Spokesman Greg Aiello did say the matter will continue to be reviewed for a possible fine, which tells me the NFL is at least suspicious. Otherwise, the matter would be closed. Completely incidental contact doesn't merit any discipline, lest the NFL start punishing players for every flailing body part that hits another player during a game.

There is no doubt it would take a special athlete to kick an opponent, without looking, while falling to the ground. But Suh is a special athlete, and it's clear that not everyone thinks what happened was an accident.

At the top of the list is Schaub himself, who initially said "I really don't have anything to say about that play or that person" and followed up Monday by saying Suh is not worthy of being on the Texans' roster.

Suh told ESPN The Magazine last month that he had "grown tremendously" from last year's Thanksgiving stomping incident against the Green Bay Packers and pledged it would "never happen again." He didn't speak to the media after Thursday's game and thus hasn't addressed his intent on the play.

Based on Suh's history, it's safe to assume the NFL would have issued a suspension if it was convinced he intentionally kicked a quarterback in the groin. So what would we conclude if he receives a fine? Let's put it this way: The league doesn't discipline you if it thinks you did everything right. A fine would imply legitimate but unproven suspicion based on history, and would be a reminder that Suh will remain under the strongest of microscopes for the foreseeable future.