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Old November 28 2013, 02:43 AM   #435
Alidar Jarok
Everything in moderation but moderation
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Location: Norfolk, VA
Re: NFL Discussion - 2013 Season

Interesting little article about Ndamukong Suh:

How to Write a Hit Piece on Ndamukong Suh: A 13-step guide to trashing the NFL's most dominant, eloquent, and incendiary bad guy

Step No. 12: Develop an Airtight Sense of Denial

This is the most important step. Follow it and you'll be fine. Forget it and the whole story falls apart. Because here's the one principle that guides this whole thing: You can demonize only Suh if you maintain the illusion that football etiquette matters — that the violence is only harmful when it violates the sport's rules.

Just make it simple. Suh once pounded a man's head into the ground then stomped on that man with a cleat as he rose to walk away. That is bad. And Suh might have meant to kick Matt Schaub in the balls, like he might have meant to take out John Sullivan's knees. And he might have laughed when Winston Justice went down, perhaps taking pleasure in the harm he'd caused another man. Then there are his hits on quarterbacks. Jake Delhomme's neck rotating like an owl's. Jay Cutler's head bouncing off the turf. They're gruesome sights, so vile that it might make you question your love for the sport.

But that's where the denial comes in. You have to ignore the quotes like Joe Ganz's — "It's just football" — not because they let Suh off the hook but because they remind us that the whole endeavor is gruesome. Ignore the research that shows that the long-term damage to players comes not from highlight tackles like Suh's but from the cumulative effect of small hits that occur in every game, every practice, every day. Cut Suh's quotes like this: "The damage comes from those constant little hits, those small little train wrecks or car crashes that happen on every play. Where you're head-butting a guy, or a guy's pressing you and he head-butts you — that kind of stuff that happens constantly."

Gloss over the way that the NFL and its compliant media (present company included) portray athletes like Suh as villains. It's useful for them to make an example out of someone, to tell themselves and the fans that they're serious about player safety by coming down hard on a player who has been branded as dangerous. If we can crack down on big hits and dirty players, the thinking goes, then we'll really clean up the league. Bigger fines and longer suspensions and realer consequences will lead to greater accountability among players. The game still won't be totally safe, but we can make it a safe place for fans to have a clear conscience while they high-five over brain-rattling hits.

Emphasize that Suh has almost certainly endangered another man's long-term health. But don't get into the research that says the realest danger came not from stomps or kicks or the grabbing of face masks, but from the simple fact that he plays football, and football inflicts damage on every play of every game. Keep up the appearance that Suh's tipping point came when he threw that punch in high school or when he cranked Delhomme's neck before he had ever played a regular-season game. Don't acknowledge that the real moment Suh became an agent of destruction was much earlier, on a late-summer afternoon when he was in the eighth grade.

Suh had never played football, but he decided to try out for the team. "I had no idea what I was doing," he says. "I just listened to the coaching." They told him to hit, so he hit. They told him to tackle, so he tackled. They told him to do what football coaches tell football players to do. Pulverize the man in front of him. Let nothing stand between Suh and the ball. "I liked to disrupt stuff," he says. Because he was big, he could do that, and he did. Everyone patted him on the back. Suh felt cool.

He was a football player now, and he was good.
I think the article makes lots of good points, but it also glosses over the more indefensible things that Suh did. I think he's unfairly overly maligned, but I can't see he's unfairly maligned.
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