Are Ndamukong Suh & His Detroit Lions Teammates Wrong For Taunting Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan?
When I first heard about this story involving Detroit Lions defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Cliff Avril and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan yesterday, I thought for sure that the reaction to it would be universal. If you haven’t heard about it by now, Ryan injured his knee on a freaky play in the third quarter of the Lions/Falcons game on Sunday. And while he was on the turf writhing in pain, Suh and Avril allegedly taunted him, according to a few of Ryan’s teammates.
“I had respect for Suh before the game,” Falcons center Todd McClure said shortly after the game ended. “But when Matt was on the ground, the things [Suh] was saying and the trash he was talking was definitely uncalled for. There are certain things you don’t do. [He said] ‘Get the cart’ and several other things I can’t repeat.”
“The cart,” as McClure calls it here, is the golf cart that’s typically used to escort players off the field when they are too injured to walk off under their own power. In those instances when it’s used, it’s usually because a player has broken a bone in their leg, ankle, or foot or torn an MCL or ACL. In most cases, the cart signifies the end of a season for a player. So when I heard that Suh and Avril were yelling, “Get the cart,” after Ryan’s injury, I was a little put off and very surprised they’d do such a thing.
However, I was even more surprised yesterday morning when I turned on ESPN’s First Take and saw not one, not two, but three different sports analysts talking about the taunting and actually faulting the Falcons players for letting it get out that Suh and Avril had been saying such things. The point that all three of them were trying to make was that trash-talking occurs in football and that much worse things are said to and by players during the course of a pro football game. They were basically saying “Get over it!” without actually saying those words. And it got me to thinking: Is that really the best response that they could come up with?
On the surface, Suh and Avril’s words showed, if nothing else, poor sportsmanship. Of course, they never expected anyone that wasn’t on the field to hear them. But now that we’ve all heard what they allegedly said, it’s clear that these guys aren’t the best sportsman in the world. I don’t think anyone is particularly surprised by that—Suh, by the way, has been called a dirty player time and time again this season by various players—but it is a little surprising that so many people seem to be simply shrugging their shoulders and going about their business in the aftermath of what Suh and Avril said.
I do agree with one of the analysts in particular, Jemele Hill, who said that it’s a little bit crazy that so many of today’s pro athletes are coming out in the media and revealing the things that are said on the playing field. However, in this particular case, I have to side with McClure, Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, and several of the other guys on the Falcons who spoke about Suh and Avril’s comments. In this instance, Suh and Avril deserve to be called out for what they did. Outside of showing poor sportsmanship, they both come across as being classless. Talking trash is one thing. Essentially wishing injury upon a guy is another thing completely. So while I’m surprised that guys like McClure came out and said something, I’m glad they did. It lets the rest of the world see what Suh and Avril’s true colors look like.
Basically, I’m a little bit outraged at the fact that there are guys out there who not only want to hurt guys on the football field but also want to talk trash to them after they do it. With all the emphasis that the NFL has put on limiting the amount of injuries they have every week, I’d hope that more guys would value their own health as well as the health of the other guys on the field a little more than Suh and Avril did on Sunday. I’d also hope that, if Suh and Avril did say the things that we all think they said, they apologize to Ryan privately for doing so. And mostly, I hope that all of the people out there who were okay with this happening re-consider their position on it.
I was sure that people would be outraged with Suh and Avril like I was. I was sure they’d get fined or, at the very least, be forced to issue some kind of public apology for it. Instead, the guys who commented on their taunts are being villified for doing it and the Lions, particularly Suh, seem to be getting patted on the back for saying some disgusting things to an opposing player. That’s not the NFL that I love and, whether you’re a Lions fan or not, that shouldn’t be the NFL you love, either. Suh and Avril were wrong for what they did. Why can’t anyone else seem to see that?