ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh says he isn’t going to change what he does on the field.
And he’s appealing his latest fine, too.
Suh was fined $100,000 for an illegal block on a Minnesota Vikings player in the Detroit Lions’ season-opening win last weekend. It is the NFL’s biggest monetary fine for on-field conduct, not including the dollars lost by players due to suspensions.
“It’s going through the appeals process,” Suh said Wednesday.
Suh’s agent, Roosevelt Barnes, said he expects the appeal to be heard later this week, when he hopes to provide another perspective to reduce his client’s fine.
“Everyone is talking about how Ndamukong shouldn’t have blocked the 300-pound lineman because there was no way he was going to catch a linebacker,” Barnes said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “If that’s the case, the lineman should’ve known he wasn’t going to catch the linebacker. But the lineman did attempt to catch the linebacker and Ndamukong attempted to block him. But everyone wants to make Ndamukong out to be a villain.”
Suh vowed that he’s not going to change his ways on the field, including when Detroit (1-0) goes on the road to play the Arizona Cardinals (0-1) on Sunday.
“I’m going to continue to play hard, blue-collar football,” he said.
Suh’s reputation for playing with a nasty streak started in 2010 when he had an NFL-high five personal fouls. The next season, he seemed to cement the perception when he stepped on the right arm of Green Bay’s Evan Dietrich-Smith in a nationally televised game on Thanksgiving and ended the season with four personal fouls, tied for sixth in the league.
Since the league suspended Suh for two games — costing him $165,294 — for the stomp, the frequency in which he as called for major penalties has sharply decreased.
Since Suh returned from the suspension during the 2011 season, he has been called for two personal fouls in a 20-game span while 42 NFL players have been called for more personal fouls, according to STATS. He was tied for 105th in the league with one personal foul penalty last year, STATS said, and was one of 41 players flagged for a person foul in Week 1 this season.
Suh said only the league, whose officials have declined comment about Suh’s fine, would be able to say whether his reputation led to the hefty blow.
Lions receiver Nate Burleson, though, said there’s no doubt.
“Once you put yourself in a position where the microscope is on you, minor mistakes become major every single time,” Burleson said. “He mentioned it when he talked to us, ‘There’s a target on my back, and rightfully so, but because of that, I have to be aware of it and as we a team, we have to be aware of it.’ … There’s a perception that Detroit football players are a little rough around the edges.”
Suh apologized to the player he hit, Vikings center John Sullivan, on Sunday during the game.
“Player safety, it’s a league concern and you got to only respect it,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons why I spoke to Sullivan as we walked into halftime. He understood where I was coming from, no hard feelings.”
Suh also expressed remorse to teammates for his penalty that negated a touchdown on the interception return.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said Suh’s apology was “a step in the right direction.”
“He played the rest of the game and it got overshadowed by a stupid play that cost not only him, but our team, and he knows that,” Stafford said. “We can’t have that. “
Detroit drafted Suh second overall in 2010 and signed him to a five-year contract worth as much as $68 million with $40 million in guarantees. He has lost some of that money because six fines and a suspension have cost him $342,794.
“None of the things he has been fined for have hurt a player or caused a player to miss any games,” Barnes said. “But ex-players who are trying to make a name for themselves on TV as sensational analysts keep calling him a dirty player.”