The suspension appeal requested by Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been denied by the league office, and Suh will serve the two-game suspension brought down by the NFL after Suh kicked Green Bay Packers offensive guard Evan Dietrich-Smith in a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Super Bowl champs.
It is the first suspension for Suh, who has been fined several times in his two-year NFL career for on-field incidents, the first player suspension under the new CBA, and the second player suspension for on-field conduct under commissioner Roger Goodell. Then-Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was suspended for five games in 2006 for stomping on the head of Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode.
This NFL statement made it official:
NFL-NFLPA on-field appeals officer Art Shell has notified Ndamukong Suh, the Lions, the NFLPA, and the NFL that Suh's appeal of his two-game suspension by NFL Vice President Merton Hanks has been denied. Under the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, Shell is one of two officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide the appeals of on-field player discipline. Ted Cottrell is the other NFL-NFLPA appeals officer for on-field violations.
Suh is suspended for the Lions' next two games and will be reinstated to the active roster on December 12.
The Lions released their own statement soon after:
"We respect the disciplinary process," said Lions president Tom Lewand. "Obviously, today's ruling does not impact our preparations for this week's game. We remain exclusively focused on the New Orleans Saints."
Suh will miss the games against the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, with Nick Fairley and Sammie Lee Hill taking his place. It's a serious blow for a 7-4 Lions team looking to stay in the playoff race, but head coach Jim Schwartz sounded very confident in Fairley (who's missed time with a foot injury) and Hill when he was asked about them earlier this week.
"He's been steadily increasing, really, since he got back on the field from the first snaps on 'Monday Night Football' against Chicago," Schwartz said of Fairley on Wednesday. "He did have one setback where he missed one game, but you know, his experience is increasing every week — I don't want to say his physical conditioning, because he was in good condition then, but he's able to play more snaps now and you're seeing it.
"When he's been in the game, he affects the game. He's not a guy that just goes in there and just makes 11. He's been good, but particularly with where we are this week, we need him to step up and make some plays for us.
"Sammie's played very good, consistent football this year," Schwartz said of Hill. "I think that it's reflective of our defensive line. When we played New Orleans in the [season] opener two years ago, Sammie was a starter and Sammie is a much, much improved player since then. Just in every aspect — conditioning, strength, knowledge, technique — everything is much, much improved. But he went from being a starter to being a rotational defensive tackle. He's given us very productive snaps when he's been in the game. He has very, very good size, but he's also a good athlete for that kind of size and you know, again, like Fairley, we need Sammie to continue to play the way he did, but maybe play some more snaps that way."
There will be many more snaps in the next two games, as the Lions try to make up for Suh's absence. The NFL also ruled that Suh is not allowed inside team facilities during his suspension. He'll be back to work on Dec. 12. He will also lose $165,000 in salary during the unpaid "penalty phase" of his season.
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