By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – According to Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, his reputation as a dirty player got started in 2011 when he stomped on Green Bay Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith. Now almost four years – and eight fines – into his playing career, Suh says he wants people to look at his body of work instead of that one moment.
“It’s obviously tainted me and given me a bad rep, and well-deserved in that instance, but I don’t think one moment in somebody’s life is going to define them,” Suh said on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “I’ve vowed, not only to myself personally, but to my family and my teammates and coaches not to have that happen again and not have situations like that that’s going to hurt them or make them feel that they can’t be proud of me or want me as a teammate.”
Suh’s most recent fine came less than two weeks ago, on Nov. 24, when he celebrated a tackle for loss with a throat-slash gesture, a move that has been banned in the NFL since 1999, a decade before Suh came into the league.
Another of Suh’s fines this season came after he illegally blocked Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan. Suh received a $100,000 fine for the action and his status as a repeat offender. Nevertheless, Suh says he has changed.
“I think I’ve definitely grown up quite a bit just understanding that if you’re not growing up, you’re just moving backward,” he said. “I’m a person that always wants to move forward, always want to grow and learn and not be the smartest person in the room, because when you’re not the smartest person in the room, you’re always learning things. I’m a learner. That’s how I got to where I am now.”
Dirty or not, Suh’s performance in 2013 has been nothing short of dominant. Even though the numbers might not show it, Suh impacts every play. Either he wins his matchup – defense coordinator Gunther Cunningham said Suh is doubled on every play – and hurries the quarterback himself, or he causes enough of a ruckus that another defensive lineman can disturb the peace of the passer. Coaches also credit him for “assists” on several interceptions by others.