Detroit Lions  

 

Unhappy Suh plans to appeal $20K NFL fine for hit on Dalton

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh acknowledged Wednesday that he's clearly "not happy" with the $20,000 fine the NFL slapped on him for his hit on Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton in last week's preseason opener.

Suh plans to appeal the punishment -- "Who wouldn't?" he asked rhetorically -- and said this incident won't impact the way he plays football.

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"I'm not going to stop playing hard," Suh said. "I owe it to my fans and to my teammates and coaches. ... There's a reason why football is football."

Suh was fined twice last year for hits on Chicago's Jay Cutler during the regular season and Cleveland's Jake Delhomme in a preseason game.

Suh's checking account can absorb the latest hit. His five-year contract is worth $40 million guaranteed and as much as $68 million, though the NFL has increased the fine each time.

"Twenty grand? For the preseason? They're trying to send a message," Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson told The Associated Press.

Suh was fined $7,500 for what he did to Delhomme, grabbing his face mask, twisting it and slamming him to the ground. He was docked $15,000 for shoving Cutler hard and high in the back from behind during a game last December.

Detroit's second preseason game is Friday at Cleveland. Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas said he and his teammates are mindful of what Suh can do.

"Everybody sees it, and it's the back of your head, but it's not really something you worry about," Thomas told The AP. "Most of our focus and attention is between the whistles, and it seems he's getting a name for himself for what happens after the whistle."

Suh compared his situation to what recently retired NBA star Shaquille O'Neal went through early in his career, enduring lots of foul trouble for being much bigger and stronger than opponents but ultimately persevering.

Earlier on Wednesday, Suh let be known just how angry he was in a post on Twitter.

"$20,000REALLY???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! #NFL #BIGFAIL," he wrote.

But the Lions rallied around Suh and came to his defense.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has taken his share of tough hits and suffered more than his share of injuries, said he believes Suh's play is misunderstood.

"He's kind of gotten a bad rap early on here," Stafford said after a spirited practice. "He plays hard, and he plays all the way to the whistle, but he doesn't hit guys late.

"He doesn't hit in the helmet. He always plays hard, and that's the way you're supposed to play football. I'm glad I don't have to go against him. But he's just playing up to the whistle."

Lions coach Jim Schwartz declined to directly comment on the fine, but he was asked about whether or not Suh's unprecedented size and speed lead to his hits perhaps appearing more violent than they are intended to be.

"It does look different when he does it," Schwartz said, "but it is what it is. The league puts it on the defensive player to know when the ball is gone."

Schwartz noted there is a "fine line" between curbing a player's intensity and style of play and going too far in the other direction.

One Lions official said the organization isn't inclined to address the infractions with Suh and isn't overly concerned. The Lions realize what a smart player Suh is, as well as his overall intellect. They believe Suh will figure out "where the line is" for himself.

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said he had a 40-minute chat with Suh on Wednesday, and it was as enjoyable as any in his 30-year coaching career. Cunningham was adamant that Suh's ability and prowess make him impossible to block and works against him in instances like this.

"No one has ever played like this at defensive tackle," Cunningham said.

"There is no malicious intent on anything," he added.

Follow Jason La Canfora on Twitter @JasonLaCanfora

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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