Suh’s suspension not long enough

Two games weren’t enough.

What happened, Mr. Commissioner? Turning soft with holiday generosity?

Roger Goodell took a ruler to Ndamukong Suh’s wrist, scolding the NFL’s bad boy for being nothing more than a bad little boy. A two-game suspension for Suh stomping a player on the field Thanksgiving Day and then stomping all over common sense in a failed mea culpa following the game, is the equivalent of rich parents punishing their spoiled teen by forcing him to drive the domestic sedan for two weeks rather than the European sports car.

Now that’s tough love!

It’s ridiculous that Goodell didn’t hit Suh with a three-game suspension. Not only would that have sent a stronger message to the individual, but it would have been a stern warning to a head coach and organization to manage this aggressive personality more effectively.

It’s obvious now that the Lions can’t prosper in the bad boys’ role. They tried it. It didn’t work.

“I’m a football coach,” Schwartz said Tuesday, “not a psychologist.”

But changing a losing culture and devising a new mindset is psychological. Nobody gave the Lions respect simply because they once again changed coaches and players.

Real respect comes by whatever means necessary. And changing long-held reputations in the NFL sometimes requires a little spilled blood and ugliness.

Schwartz wanted a team that wouldn’t back down, that would give as much as it took. If players occasionally crossed that blurry line between aggressive and egregious, so be it. It’s football, not tiddlywinks.

As much as the Lions publicly reviled the perceptions of being evil and dirty, they privately embraced the new identity because nobody laughed at them anymore.

But this is the second time that Schwartz was directly connected to a defensive lineman facing a multiple-game in-season suspension. He was Tennessee’s defensive coordinator when Albert Haynesworth stomped on the head of a Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman, injuring him. The NFL suspended Haynesworth for a record five games.

If this happens again, at what point does this negatively reflect on him as a head coach?

The Lions insisted Tuesday that Suh learned humility. He’s supposedly hurting that his actions have wrongly diverted attention from the must-win situation for the Lions on Sunday night in New Orleans.

Dominic Raiola refused to say much Tuesday about Suh. “He knows what he did,” he said.

Kyle Vanden Bosch briefly spoke with Suh on Tuesday morning at the team facility before word of the suspension came down. Suh then had to leave the facility pending the appeal process. Vanden Bosch refused to label Suh’s actions “selfish,” describing them as a lack of composure.

The NFL likes Suh. He’s the antithesis of the stereotypical defensive behemoth. He’s erudite. He’s articulate. He’s a marketing dream for a league exhausted by news reports involving players, nightclubs and guns.

But Goodell didn’t help Suh learn from his mistakes by cutting him too much slack.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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