Friday, September 3, 2010

Detroit's Newest Bad Boy

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The Detroit Lions have seen their share of fines over the years but there are two which standout in my mind.

When Detroit hired Steve Mariucci as its head coach on February 4, 2003, Lions General Manager Matt Millen was hit with a $250,000 fine for failing to comply with the NFL's Rooney Rule where teams have to interview a minority candidate for their head coaching job.

Needless to say, Lions Owner William Clay Ford Sr. was furious after this occurred but had to live with the decision. Ford defended his track record of hiring minorities for his organizations and wasn't pleased that his integrity was attacked.

Detroit's latest fine occurred on Friday as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh found himself $7,500 lighter in the wallet by the NFL for his roughing the passer penalty on quarterback Jake Delhomme in an exhibition game against the Cleveland Browns.
The No.2 overall pick April's draft grabbed Delhomme's face mask and twisted it, then wrapped his arms around the quarterback's head and slammed him to the ground in the second quarter of last Saturday's game, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

Even Cleveland Coach Eric Mangini said this week he didn't think the former Nebraska Cornhuskers standout intended to injure Delhomme.

Lions Coach Jim Schwartz certainly wasn't going to comment on the fine just the fact that the play cost Detroit 15-yards.

But deep down inside, Schwartz may have used this as an opportunity to use this as a "Teaching Moment," however, you can rest assure that he must have smiled and pat his rookie on the back for his passion and aggressive play.

As for the Ford's, both William Sr. & Jr, they must have enjoyed this fine as well because now there is a little a nasty streak on their defense anchored by the rookie.

The Lions recently added black to their uniforms because they wanted to toughen their image. Adding players like Suh will only enhance the team's new identity as it hopes to add wins for a franchise that has finished 2-30 the past two years.

Whether Ford actually pays the fine or if it gets payroll deducted out of Suh's check is the small story.

There will be a charity tax write off some place.

For all we know, the fans in Detroit would pony up the coin just to prove a point that they want to see more players with Suh's Blue Collar attitude around.

These are the qualities that saw Johnny Damon want to play the entire season for the Tigers because he loved playing in Detroit. Damon loved the loyalty of the fan base.

Detroit appreciated the Pistons "Bad Boys" era with that toughness. Now the city can embrace the latest "Bad Boy" who is probably too small to drive a Ford Focus.

But you can rest assure, that Suh will continue to focus on anybody that gets in his way. I can just imagine if he does the same thing to St. Louis Rams Quarterback Sam Bradford, the No. 1 pick in this years draft ahead of him, how much that fine would be.

Yet, knowing the Ford's, they'll smile and love every minute of it. They'll find a way to pay that fine.

I'm sure when Delhomme went to the sidelines and saw former Texas Longhorns signal caller Colt McCoy, he had to ask the rookie that when he faced Suh in college was this guy that much of an animal and impact player? There had to be a big smile and a definitive yes.

So beware defenders, the Lions have ferocious defensive side that the NFL will see plenty of in the future.

Meanwhile, Ndamukong if you continue the aggressive behavior, that will earn you trips to the Pro Bowl, plenty of local endorsements and the Ford's might even use your to promote their tough trucks.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

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