Ndamukong Suh is a football player. He plays defensive tackle in the National Football League. Can we please stop talking about him like anything he does is ever a surprise?
Last Sunday, as his Detroit Lions were in the midst of a winner-take-all NFC North division title game against the Packers, Suh did this to All-World quarterback Aaron Rodgers:
Naturally, white america was up in arms.
And, sure, I understand… this isn’t the first or second or even third offense Suh has accumulated during his tenure in the NFL. Deadspin has an entire scroll dedicated to his mastery at being a foul pain in the ass to opposing offenses. So, no, I’m not going to sit here and pretend he didn’t have malicious intent with Rodgers. Obviously Suh was aware what he was doing. He’s a smart dude. He’s always aware of what he is doing on the football field, because he’s really fucking good.
Again, this is the NFL. What the goddamn hell did you ever expect?
Being a Texas Rangers fan — a fellow D-FW franchise — many of the people I follow and who follow me on twitter were particularly ecstatic when they found out Suh was to be suspended for the Wild Card matchup against the Cowboys. Although some took to the idea that Ndamukong got what he deserved (maybe he did), the consensus had nothing to do with the nefarious on-field act he committed to Rodgers’s calf, only that he wouldn’t be active against the Cowboys. It looked something like this:
Suh suspended! Huge break for Cowboys!!!
— Ben Rogers (@BenRogers) December 29, 2014
You’re right, Ben. It was a huge break for the Cowboys. Because Ndamukong Suh is really fucking good.
See, if it wasn’t a talented football player, I wouldn’t even be writing about this. The media would have fucked off right away like they did with Suh’s teammate last week and I wouldn’t have paid it any mind.
Suh, though, is a more interesting case.
Typically when the media is discussing black people doing bad things, they tend to use the word “thug,” or “knucklehead,” instead of just calling a dumb play a dumb play. It’s the same reason why — whether basketball or football — supposed analysts describe black people as “athletic” and white people as “high-motor” players. Everything is backwards. It’s apparently impossible to simply say “Player_X is really good” despite what the color of his skin is. The media has a subtle yet in-your-face way of appealing to your sensibilities. And it sucks.
Because most times, at least in the past, Ndamukong has been portrayed as a thug or a knucklehead, when in reality he’s a smart guy who comes from a good family. His mom is a teacher and his father a mechanical engineer, and if you’ve ever heard Suh give an interview you’d see just how well-spoken he is. A thug or knucklehead he is not.
No, what this is… is the NFL. It’s a different culture than whatever shit you or I are into. In 2011 the Saints got the hammer dropped on them for “Bountygate,” a pay-for-play scheme involving big hits and injuring members of the opposing team. If you think it doesn’t still go on then, well, okay. But this is the culture. This is the culture Suh is a part of.
Admittedly, I’m for the players all the way. Unless we’re talking about sexual assault or driving drunk or beating your wife, I’m going to side with the player. What Suh did to Aaron Rodgers was a dirty play from a dirty player and I’m not going to spend any time disputing that, but if I’m practically looking at this situation I can’t fault the guy.
Maybe it makes me a bad person for saying so, but so it is.
Aaron Rodgers is one of the two or three-best quarterbacks in the NFL, and if Suh stepped on his calf to try to get him out of the game, all is fair. That sort of back-stabbing, under-cutting mentality isn’t personally how I operate in my everyday profession or life, but if I was in the NFL and my soul purpose was to win a football game, I can see the logic in it. Just like I can see the logic in most fouls Suh has committed during his time in the league. I hate to say it’s just business, but it is.
Today Suh’s one-game suspension was lifted, and instead he’ll pay a $70,000 fine, so he will be eligible to play against the Cowboys next week. And that makes me happy. I’m a suburban white guy and I like to see the best players on the field, playing, so I won’t be losing anything this weekend. If I were a fan of the Cowboys I would probably view this situation in a different light, but I’m not, so I can look subjectively, through the eyes of a sports fan.
This is just an opinion, and it’s my blog so I can write whatever the fuck I want, and that’s cool, too.
Ndamukong Suh is a football player, and a dirty football player at that. I might find fault with what he’s done in the past and what he did last Sunday and what he’ll do in the future, but you won’t be able to convince me he’s someone you wouldn’t want on your team.
Winning is all that matters. It’s nothing personal.