Suh’s Suspension and Classical Conservatism

December 4, 2011


Being an avid Detroit sports enthusiast, I had a little more to be excited for this past Thansgiving. For the first time since I can remember, my beloved Detroit Lions posed a threat to a championship-caliber football team in the Green Bay Packers. I had actual hope that we could win on Thanksgiving. But as the action began to unfold, I quickly saw our chances diminish before my eyes. The team was flustered and was not playing to their fullest capability. The frustration was too much for one player, Ndamukong Suh, to handle. Suh, already known for being a “dirty” aggressive player, let his emotions manipulate his actions. I watched as Suh slammed an opponent’s head to the ground multiple times and then deliberately stepped on his leg with one of his cleats. He was immediately ejected from the game, instantly leaving our defense open to exposure. Up until that point, I had defended Suh’s play on the field despite media outcry that claimed he was “dirty.” But after seeing that outburst, I realized that some sort of intervention was needed to prevent him from jeopardizing his own potential as an NFL superstar.

Move, get out my way

Five days later, the NFL ruled that the Lions’ franchise player would be banned from both entering team facilities and playing in games for two weeks, without pay. The idea of classical conservatism quickly came to my mind after hearing this news. Why? A few weeks back, a player in the NFL did something eerily similar to the actions done by Suh on Thanksgiving. After getting frustrated on a play, the Minnestoa Vikings’ Brian Robinson  kicked an opponent in the groin with his cleat. However, the NFL only fined him $20,000. This obvious discrepancy in punishments can be attributed to the fact that Suh is not considered a “gentleman” of the National Football League. He has collected the most personal fouls in the league since his rookie season last year, and the referees are constantly monitoring his actions as a result. This reflects the principles of classical conservatism. This political theory states that those who are “gentlemen” in society are at a higher social status than those who are not: equality is not present. In this case, Robinson had never been penalized for foul play prior to this instance and was regarded highly by his peers. Thus, the NFL was lenient in Robinson’s fine. Suh,on the other hand, had acted in a brutish fashion prior to this instance, and thus did not receive an equal penalty.

Why so sad, Terrell?

The NFL has longed valued players who maintain honor through their actions on the field, and who display “traditional” characteristics of a professional athlete. Players like Barry Sanders and Walter Payton, whom never celebrated after scoring a touchdown, were viewed as heroes rather than simply great players because of their characteristics of a gentlemen. Each year, awards are given to those who display the best sportsmanship on the field, and those who are most charitable. Organizations choose players that they feel will live up to the traditional values of the NFL. Players who are arrogant and “show-boaty” often find themselves without a team, despite their talent. A perfect example of this is Terrel Owens who no longer plays in the NFL because he is a distraction off-the-field. Organizations do not want these players to distract the team from accomplishing their goals. Executives want their players to be associated with class, doing things the right way- showing the qualities of a gentleman.

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About chkeeler

Sophomore at University of Michigan

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4 Comments on “Suh’s Suspension and Classical Conservatism”

  1. joecotant Says:

    I too am an avid Detroit sports fan, and of course a diehard Lions supporter. The Lions’ performance this year has been like nothing I have ever seen before. Things seem to be clicking, and I always look forward to watching the Lions take the field every Sunday. Without a doubt, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson has stolen the spotlight on the offensive side of the ball for the Lions, but one player on defense has accumulated just as much attention. Obviously, I am talking about the Lions’ defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Number 90 on the Lions is hands down one of the most explosive, exciting, and tenacious players I have ever watched in professional football. Suh fights until the whistle every play, gives 100% every play, and always proves to be an entertaining player.

    Although he is extremely fun to watch, in my eyes this season he has proven himself to be dirty player. I realize that his tenacity has helped to ignite the spark that the Lions have so desperately needed these past few seasons, but some of his actions on the field have been completely out of hand. Last year Suh did his best to keep his nose out of trouble, but this year it has certainly become a problem for himself, and for the team as a whole. Below are links to videos that display Suh partaking in what I definitely consider “dirty” play. As you can observe in one video, Suh was fined $20,000 for the dirty hit he laid Cincinnati Bengals QG Andy Dalton. Watching these one after the other, I could not see why someone wouldn’t consider Suh to be a dirty player. His actions on the football field have earned him that position in the NFL.

    Personally, I believe that Suh is in no way a “gentleman” on the field. While it may just be his cutthroat mentality for the game, as well as an extremely strong drive of determination to win and “leave it all on the field”, there is no question that he is a dirty player and received a rightful and deserved punishment. Suh’s punishment is fair because of everything that lead up to it. It truly is a shame that his hardnosed play has come to something like this. I am guessing that Suh is not regarded highly by other players in the NFL for the disrespect he has shown other players. Because of his actions, the Lions are the one who are receiving much of the heat for Suh’s ridiculous actions. Overall, although he is a thrilling player to watch, and a determined fighter every game, his mindless actions led him to receive a punishment that was truthfully earned.

  2. ywjpeter Says:

    I find your blog on this very intriguing. Classical Conservatism in today’s world I feel is hard to come by. Though the NFL, looks upon actions such as “showboating” or things that are not traditional as unwanted I feel people are starting to be more accepting in society as a whole to accept certain untraditional viewpoints. Things that seemed super liberal and something that was not accepted by a whole group of people are slowly becoming accepted by the majority. One example would be right for gay people. This was looked down upon and 50 years ago, “coming out of the closet” would be not a smart move to make within corporate and political worlds. Gay people have no right place in society and that was the thought process, but now a days people are open and accepting of it. They feel as though it is part of the society now.

    I think the NFL and the sports world is one of the only places where “traditional” is considered good. Now a days an accepting of all viewpoints is essential to making connections. I commend the NFL and sports leagues for keeping these certain traditional viewpoints intact.

  3. dcmiller93 Says:

    I think the case of Suh’s suspension also follows along the lines of the classical conservative idea of following in the steps of those that have gone before. Commissioner Roger Goodell, in levying the two game suspension on the Lions’ DT, followed in lockstep with the historical response to such action. You may remember then-stalwart defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth got into a similar altercation that culminated in a sinister stop to the unpadded backside of an offensive lineman. In that case, Haynesworth was also suspended for multiple games, four to be exact. It’s not unlikely that Goodell used this episode as a template on which he could base his punishment. This would serve to explain the other example you brought up, the discrepancy in punishment between the arm stomp and the groin kick. Maybe Goodell didn’t want to go out and set a new standard for punishment on groin assaults so he chose to give out the conventional $20k fine.

  4. evanhw Says:

    Considering Ndamukong Suh’s reputation, it’s important that Roger Goodell places a higher consequences on repeated offenses. The importance of safety has grown in the last 5 years as we consistently hear about chronic health problems NFL players develop due hard hits and injuries. In other words, the NFL is adapting to become untraditionally more focused on being safer for it’s athletes. The NFL traditionally reveres those who are respectful to the game and who carry themselves as gentlemen, however this issue is more concerned with the recent focus towards creating a safer environment for NFL players. The more Roger Goodell believes you to be dangerous to other players, solely based off of past incidents, the more he will be willing to fine you for new incidents. Acting as a gentleman and following rules that have been implemented to be conducive of safer hits, go hand in hand when Goodell decides the penalty. In this way, Goodell is conserving the idealisms of the NFL as well as adapting to a new era of safety.

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