By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Even to NFL players who make millions, $100,000 is a lot of money.
Few Detroit Lions make more money than former first round draft pick Ndamukong Suh, the defensive end who has a reputation for being good as well as a rap for being bad.
Suh found himself in hot water again Tuesday, receiving a $100,000 fine for his illegal block in the season opener against Minnesota, when he hit John Sullivan from behind at the knees on an interception return. Suh has a history of plays perceived by many as dirty, but his teammates were still shocked by the price tag of this latest transgression.
“The league’s out of control with some of these fines,” placekicker David Akers said. “It’s like it’s Monopoly money, it’s not real. That’s a lot of money.”
Right tackle Corey Hilliard seconded that. He also was not entirely shocked by the sky-high amount, one of the highest ever by the NFL for an on-field incident.
“I’m not surprised,” Hilliard said. “With [NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell, man, anything’s possible,” Hilliard said. “You look at guys like James Harrison, who’s been fined ridiculous amounts and all that stuff, it’s a joke. Come on.”
Wide receiver Nate Burleson also found the amount of the fine unbelievable but was not taken off guard either because of the reputation Suh has made for himself over his career. Suh’s propensity for questionable plays has put a target on his back, and he knows – and his teammates know – he has to be above board at all times now.
“It’s hard to kind of tell a guy who plays through the whistle, plays with such a fiery, intense personality, to pull back,” Burleson said, “but he has to understand that everybody’s watching every single moment. Suh’s one of those guys nowadays where he might have two cameras on him every play all the way through the whistle, even walking back to the huddle, because they might be looking for something.”
Suh would not comment on what he thought on the amount or on what grounds he might be appealing the fine. He said the fine will not change how he plays, and even as he tries to take on more of a leadership role for the Lions this season, he understands that he cannot alter the opinions people have of him that might be based on his past actions instead of his present ones.
“You’re never going to change people,” Suh said. “I’ve always understood there’s people that live on the far side or on the near side or in between. They jump over and back and forth on the fence. That’s not really of my concern. I’m just going to be consistent with who I am.”
Head coach Jim Schwartz also remained mum about his thoughts on the amount of Suh’s fine. He said he thought Suh had adapted his plays from a few years earlier and that Sunday’s hit would not have produced such a dramatic response had it not been for the reputation Suh has cultivated.
“He’s adapted from a couple years ago,” Schwartz said. “This was an incident that got on the radar because of what happened in his past.”