November 26, 2011
After yet another on-field breakdown from Detroit Lions nose tackle Ndamukong Suh(notes), there are legitimate questions about a player who has now earned a reputation as a hothead and an occasional liability to his team. Suh was ejected in the third quarter of Detroit's 27-15 loss to Green Bay on Thursday after he stomped on Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith(notes).
An ejection from the game followed, but for Dr. Mitch Abrams, Psy.D., the actions leading to the ejection of the second-year player is a sign of a player who could benefit from a little time on the psychologist's couch.
Dr. Abrams would write a prescription for Suh to get some anger management.
"Suh needs anger management as much as many athletes need anger management because it is a mental skill in sports that doesn't get much attention. When there is a transgression on the field or off it, athletes get sent to anger management as if it is punishment. If you rev your guys up and they go over the line, it isn't as simple as the athlete has an anger problem," Dr. Abrams said.
"Coaches don't really appreciate this much, but a bad personal foul that takes the team out of field goal range could put the player's rear end on the bench. If you don't want that to happen, teach or train for that."
Having earned a bit of a reputation for his overtly aggressive play, Suh met with commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this month to get a better understanding as to why he had been fined three times at that point in his young career. With a fourth fine surely coming, it would seem that Suh needs to tackle his anger issues or risk losing out on not only a promising playing career, but also endorsements.
Abrams, author of Anger Management in Sports and assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, sees Suh and other football players as not equipped to "control the volume of their anger." Football is a violent sport and there needs to be a proverbial "off-switch" between physicality and what becomes sheer hostility.
"I've never met Suh, so I can't say anything about what his true issues with anger are but I do think that he is a 'beast' and I mean that as a compliment. He is so intense, so dominant that he can put fear into his opponents and that gives him an advantage mentally before he even steps on the field -Sun Tzu Art of War would be proud," Dr. Abrmas said. "Clearly, as good as he is, he cannot help his team from the sidelines and if he doesn't realize that he is getting extra scrutiny, he's not paying attention. So do I think he is an angry young man? Not necessarily. Do I think his anger hurts his performance sometimes? Yes."
Making matters worse, Suh doesn't seem to acknowledge that he has an issue with anger and certainly did not take any steps to further a conciliatory tone with his postgame remarks. He later tried to make amends with a statement made on hjis Facebook page, but many see him as a player who never seems to embrace and acknowledge his faults and once again sidestepped the taking of responsibility while addressing the media.
"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," Suh said. "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."
Not exactly how to win friends and influence people.
"The answer I would have liked to have heard would have been something like, 'Look, in the trenches, it gets rough and dirty. We know it does. Sometimes things happen in the heat of battle that aren't our proudest moments and hurt us from reaching our goals. Did I want to hurt him? Not specifically, but I am not going to lie and act like I am upset about that - I'm upset that my behavior took me out of the game so I couldn't help my team. I know I get a lot of scrutiny because of how I play and my reputation. I have to do better with staying in control," Dr. Abrams said.
"A lot of football is about domination and Suh is great at domination and intimidation. That [play] looked to me like him doing what he does but he already dominated that player on the floor and the stomp was the spillage when you are operating at a higher level of anger. I do not believe it was premeditated or sadistic, which would be much worse. But I don't believe he was just trying to get away either."
Kristian R. Dyer contributes to Yahoo!Sports and can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer
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