While our country crumbles, weakens, and whines, the last place where men could be men was the NFL. Now, as we’ve seen in the last couple of seasons, even the NFL has gone soft.
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was slapped with a 2-game suspension by the NFL today for his unsportsmanlike tactics on Thanksgiving Day against the Packers. I agree it was unnecessary and uncalled for. I agree with him being tossed out of the game. I don’t agree with the punishment going beyond that.
Suh has collected 9 personal foul penalties in 27 games. That is a fact. What can be disputed however is the manner in which those penalties were assigned. Suh, unfortunately for him, has taken over the mantel as dirtiest player in the NFL. James Harrison, eat your heart out.
I think the NFL reached a crossroads, and made a sad decision over a year ago to do more to protect players…ahem, protect offensive players. Gotta keep those fantasy rosters intact surely was spoken in jest, but with a straight and stern face. The concern comes across as real. Of course, the NFL benefits doubly by their stance. First, they look good in the public eye by saying the right thing about concern for players safety. Just so happens, the second thing, and the unspoken truth is, they gain financially as well. Keeping stars on the field is good for business and also those fines they collect don’t hurt either.
Suh is old school. I admittedly love him and the attitude he plays with. He is just out there kicking butt and taking names. He is an intimidator. As the late Al Davis used to say, “The quarterback must go down, and he must go down hard.” Davis is referring to hitting him early, and reaping the benefits of fearful opponent the rest of the day. That’s how football is supposed to played.
What Suh did, was unsportsmanlike, and although more common and unnoticed decades ago, has no place in the game. I don’t argue that. Like I said, he should have been tossed from the game, but going beyond that punishment seems over-the-top.
Football is an aggressive sport. It’s violent. It’s not for the faint of heart. You get the idea. Each week it’s becoming harder and harder to define what is aggressive and good and illegal and unnecessary. Commentators, especially former players and coaches, have become increasingly frustrated watching the flags fly. Even when the explanation of why the penalty was called is legit, you can’t help but feel that the rule is then bad.
We used to know it when we saw it. That was spearing. That was a late (and I mean late!) hit. But now, if the hit is violent, a flag flies. Defenses are going to keep playing the same way, there is no way around it. You can’t coach a safety to catch a WR and not crush him. The fact is, the DB is trying to hurt him. That’s his job. Separate man from ball. These are moving targets, sometimes helmets will touch helmets. It’s a man’s sport, and that’s how it should stay.
I’ve been using the phrase, “Wussification of America,” for about the last 5 years. I am certain people older than me would say that’s been underway for much longer. So be it. People are too sensitive. Too soft. Too worried about what other may think or react or if they are offending someone. People have become more obsessed with words and actions than the context and intent behind them. And people, the media and otherwise, can’t wait to hang somebody by their fingernails, making a bigger deal about nothing than is necessary.
I fear the NFL has fallen prey to this movement. It’s not all Roger Goodell, it’s people in and around the league that allowed these things to happen.
The NFL isn’t a tennis match or a day on the links. It is a dirty sport by it’s nature. There are unsportsmanlike things that can be cleaned up, but now they are tampering with the game and hurting the game.