Team v. League Discipline
Obviously, Suh faces discipline. The only question is whether that discipline is coming from the Lions or the NFL. As to the difference, it lies on appeal.
In the event Suh is disciplined by the Lions and appeals, the appeal will be heard by an independent arbitrator.
In the event Suh is disciplined by the Commissioner and appeals, the appeal will be heard by – you guessed it – the Commissioner's designated representative. To be fair, the NFLPA is involved in the selection and compensation of the hearing officers -- either Art Shell or Ted Cottrell -- but they are clearly league employees. This appeals process was one of the priorities the NFLPA sought to change in the new CBA, but its impact seems muted.
The Lions have tipped their hand on this matter, saying in a statement “Subsequent discipline would be determined by the league office.” Thus, when Suh receives his suspension, any appeal will go right back to the NFL office who, of course, originally meted out the discipline.
What will Roger do?
Suh’s actions – especially in light of his earlier behavior and meeting with the Commissioner – appear to warrant harsher discipline than a fine. A suspension appears to be coming, with the question being whether it is for one game or longer.
In recent history, here is some precedent for discipline as to egregious on-field conduct:
In 2010, despite the rash of violent hits – especially during an October weekend with vicious blows to DeSean Jackson and others -- that saw the NFL step up its enforcement and penalties for such acts – there were no suspensions.
With Commissioner discipline, not all cases are created equal. This is a high-profile incident with a well-known player in a nationally televised stage with no other games being played. That bodes towards stronger discipline.
My best guess is that Goodell will suspend Suh two games and fine him a week’s pay beyond that. Thus, it will cost Suh two games of participation and three weeks – or $246,000 – of salary.
The saga of Suh continues.
UPDATE: The NFL has suspended Suh for two games. Suh can appeal the suspension.
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