Lions DT Suh defends his style of play after $100K fine for hit

Ndamukong Suh has paid out nearly $343,000 since entering the league in 2010, including six fines and a two-game suspension without pay. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – If you’re waiting for Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to say he’s going to change, you could have a long wait coming.

Suh did nothing of the sort Wednesday when he met with the media for the first time since being fined $100,000 by the NFL for an illegal block after diving at the knees of a Minnesota player during an interception return last Sunday.

“I don’t change,” Suh said. “I’m going to always play tough, hard. That’s the way I was brought up at Nebraska, where I really learned football from the Pelini’s (coach Bo Pelini and his brother, Carl, the Cornhuskers’ former defensive coordinator/defensive-line coach) and that staff. I’m going to continue to play hard, blue-collar football.”

The excessive fine appears to be a final warning from the league and that the next time he’s likely to face a suspension.

Suh insisted the situation won’t force him to play more cautious.

“Really, just play football,” he said. “That’s all I can do.”

Suh confirmed that he’s going to appeal the fine, the largest in NFL history for an on-the-field incident.

Asked if the fine was fair, he answered, “That’s not my decision. I don’t really have an opinion on it. It’s going through the appeals process. We’ll go from there.”

Suh wouldn’t comment further on his decision to appeal, saying: “My agent’s taking care of it. That’s what he’s paid for. He’ll handle it.”

The Lions’ bad boy doesn’t seem to be too concerned about trying to change the public opinion of him.

“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 from the fence. That’s not really my concern. I’m going to be consistent (with) who I am.”

As for whether he’s being targeted by the league because of his reputation, Suh replied, “You’ve got to ask the league that question, whether they wanted to make a decision off my reputation or off of this year, whatever it may be. First game of the year, I don’t know.”

He added, “I’m not handing out the fines. You’ll have to ask (NFL commissioner) Roger Goodell or anybody on his staff that handles that.”

Suh has paid out nearly $343,000 since entering the league in 2010, including six fines and a two-game suspension without pay two years ago for stomping on Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.

Suh was called for only one personal-foul penalty last season but also was fined $30,000 for kicking Houston quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin, a play that wasn’t penalized at the time.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, has expressed his concern to Suh about player-safety issues.

“I have reached out to Ndamukong Suh,” Smith wrote in a message posted Tuesday on Twitter. “We believe that all players have a basic responsibility to each other.”

Asked about Smith’s message to him, Suh said, “We haven’t had a chance to have a full-out discussion. When I actually get that chance to, I’ll probably just keep that between me and him.”

Current and former players have been criticizing Suh’s style of play since this latest issue.

“He is a dirty player,” said former Indianapolis center Jeff Saturday, a six-time Pro Bowl selection and current analyst for ESPN. “Every player that plays against him knows it. What he does and continues to do is ridiculous.”

New Orleans tight end Benjamin Watson, a 10-year NFL veteran, believes that Suh’s style needs to be seriously addressed.

“I don’t know that a suspension or the amount of the fine really solves the problem,” Watson told the NFL Network. “Honestly, I think it’s a character issue. I think there’s something going on here that we need to look deeper.

“A $100,000 fine is obviously an astronomical amount, but because we’ve seen this happen multiple times, I don’t think it’s about the amount. I think it’s about players getting on players and him deciding that, ‘Hey, I’m going to abide by the rules.’

“I mean we’re out here trying to work, we all have mouths to feed. We come to work every day hoping to go to a safe workplace, and he is making it a danger for a lot of guys, and his conduct needs to stop.”

Suh is used to the critics, but he understands, at least to some extent, why his block on Vikings center John Sullivan has gotten so much attention.

“I think it’s obviously player safety,” Suh said. “The league’s concerned. You’ve got to only respect it.

“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. Same thing if he cut me.”

Suh apologized to his teammates Tuesday for the penalty, which was behind the play and totally unnecessary.

“It’s a play that took a touchdown away,” he said.  “We could have had more points on the board. Obviously, I don’t want to hurt the team. In that instance, that play, it did. I just made it a point to emphasize that to them and made it known.”

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley (shoulder), offensive tackle Jason Fox (groin) and safety Don Carey (hamstring) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice, according to the Lions’ official injury update.

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