With his recent hit on quarterback Andy Dalton in the preseason, the debate has raged across the football nation as to whether Detroit Lions star defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh is a “dirty” player. The answer to this is up for debate, but one thing that has been indisputable is Suh’s impact on the Motor City. With just over one NFL season under his belt, he has changed the entire culture in a city starving for a football star since the shocking departure of Barry Sanders. In his first year as a Lion, Suh was an all-pro and pro-bowl selection, defensive rookie of the year and led all defensive tackles in sacks.
But this has not occurred without some controversy regarding the way he plays. Suh has barely begun his second regular season in the NFL and has already been fined three times by the league ($7,500, $15,000 and $20,000) for rough play. The problem may lay in the fact that Suh is not your typical defensive lineman. He dishes out vicious hits like that of a defensive end, but is an interior defensive linemen. His tremendous size and speed allows him to intimidate quarterbacks. This has been coupled with an attitude and swagger that is contagious around the rest of the team.
In a recent interview on The Jim Rome Show, Suh asserted that he is not dirty but rather has more strength and athletic ability than the opponents he lines up against, which makes it hard to officiate him. He maintains that a dirty player means committing 15-yard penalties, throwing dirty punches and face mashing – traits that are not a part of his character. After the NFL fined him for the hit on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, Suh voiced his displeasure on Twitter by saying among other things it was an epic fail by the NFL. He has also maintained that his mother tells him he is not dirty and he thought that the Dalton hit was fair because he began the process of hitting him before he released the football. When commenting on whether a fear of a reputation may hinder what he does on the football field he said that he is actually going to turn it up a couple notches this season, if anything.
Regardless of whether accusations of being a dirty player are warranted or not, Suh is a smart, mature and likeable character off the field – something the NFL can be proud of in an era where many of its players have been plagued with off-the-field issues.