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Lions, Suh each release new statements on Thanksgiving Day incident

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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In a statement released on Friday evening, the Detroit Lions indicated that defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will not be disciplined internally for the incident that happened on Thanksgiving Day, when Suh was ejected from the 27-15 loss to the Green Bay Packers for kicking offensive guard Evan Dietrich-Smith.

The on-field conduct exhibited by Ndamukong Suh that led to his ejection from yesterday's game was unacceptable and failed to meet the high level of sportsmanship we expect from our players," the statement said.

Ndamukong has made many positive contributions to the Lions on and off the field. We expect his behavior going forward to consistently reflect that high standard of professionalism.

We have been in contact with Commissioner Goodell's office and were advised that, like any on-field matter, Thursday's incident is subject to review by the League office and that any subsequent discipline would be determined by the League office.

Suh also released his own statement on his Facebook page, and it was in startling contrast to what he said right after the game. First, today's statement:

In the past few hours, I have had time to reflect on yesterday's game and I want to sincerely apologize for letting my teammates down, the organization, and especially to my fans who look to me for positive inspiration.

Playing professional sports is not a game. It is a profession with great responsibility, and where performance on and off the field should never be compromised. It requires a calm and determined demeanor, which cannot be derailed by the game, referee calls, fans or other players.

I want to reiterate my commitment to working to become a better player, and professional — on and off the field. My reaction on Thursday was unacceptable. I made a mistake, and have learned from it. I hope to direct the focus back to the task at hand — by winning.

As we said, very different than what Suh said right after the contest:

First and foremost, I'm only going to apologize to my teammates, my coaches, and my true fans for allowing the refs to have an opportunity to take me out of this game. What I did was remove myself from the situation in the best way I felt and me being held down in the situation that I was in and for that, my intentions were not to kick anybody, as I did not, removing myself. As you see, I'm walking away from the situation. With that, I apologize to my teammates, and my fans, and my coaches for allowing…putting myself in a position to be misinterpreted and taken out of the game.

I was on top of a guy being pulled down and trying to get up off the ground, why you see me pushing his helmet down, because I'm trying to remove myself from the situation and as I'm getting up, I'm getting pushed, so I'm getting myself on balance and getting out of the situation. Which, with that, a lot of people are going to interpret it as, or create their own storylines for seeing what they want to interpret it, but I know what I did and the man upstairs knows what I did.

I understand in this world because of the type of player and type of person I am, all eyes are on me. So why would I do something to jeopardize myself and jeopardize my team first and foremost. I don't do bad things, and I have no intention to hurt somebody. If I want to hurt him, I'm going to hit his quarterback, as I did throughout that game.

There won't likely be any decision made on Suh's punishment until early next week. He is expected to receive a heavy fine and possibly a suspension from one or multiple games. The Lions next play on December 4, when the face the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome.

When we spoke with Suh last week at Shutdown Corner, he seemed to be experiencing a serious schism between the way he wants to play and what the league expects. When I asked him if his recent visit to the league offices gave him any clarity on these issues, he sounded less than sure about any changes.

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"I have no friends when I hit the field," he said, by way of explaining his behavior. "Especially my opponents. The guys I rally with, and the defensive linemen I play next to, and the defenders who play behind me — those are the only guys I'm [in line with], as well as the offensive players who allow us to sustain drives and stay off the field. I have a lot of friends in the league, but I don't see them during the game. It's all about business we need to take care of, and getting it done.

"I play very physically — very hard-nosed football. That's the way I was brought up from high school; to play blue-collar football. That's especially true in a blue-collar town like Detroit. I'm going to continue to play that way, and I just wanted to have a little bit of understanding about the things {the NFL is] looking for, and the things that aren't okay. I'm going to to continue to help my team, and stay on the football field."

But did he see any ways to play differently from that visit? "Not really doing anything differently, just continuing to play well and helping my team win. It's about having an understanding of certain things they're looking for so I can be cognizant of them, but things happen, and I'm going to continue to play within the rules."

Hmmm … well, so far, not so good. We'll just have to see what the fallout is from this latest episode, how it affects the Lions, and whether Suh finds a way to reconcile his undeniably superior talent with his own difficult thoughts on how the game should be played.

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