Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (AP Photo)
NEW YORK (AP) — Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh can play in Detroit’s wild-card game after his one-game NFL suspension was reduced to a $70,000 fine.
Hearing officer Ted Cottrell heard Suh’s expedited appeal Tuesday and ruled that Suh can play Sunday at Dallas but must pay the fine.
Suh originally was suspended for stepping on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ left leg twice last Sunday in a loss to Green Bay for the NFC North title. He stepped on Rodgers once with each foot, which violated unnecessary roughness rules, according to the league.
But Cottrell, jointly appointed by the NFL and the players’ union, rescinded the suspension.
The Lions said they would not comment until Wednesday, when Suh will be available at their training complex.
One Cowboys defensive player, end Jeremy Mincey, seemed surprised by Cottrell’s decision.
“I didn’t understand that,” Mincey said. “You’ve got to play the game the right way. I’m not knocking him. I like his intensity. I love how hard he plays. But there comes a point where you’ve got to think before you react.
“Sometimes it happens. I’ve done plays like what Suh did, so I’m not mad at him. It happens like that sometimes. You’re frustrated, you’re down and you’re losing and things like that.”
Suh has a long list of fines and one previous suspension, for two games in 2011 for stepping on the right arm of Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. Suh has been fined eight times in his career, but this is the first in 2014.
Suh was fined $100,000 for an illegal block on Vikings center John Sullivan in Week 1 of 2013 during an interception return. That was the largest fine in NFL history for on-field conduct, not counting suspensions.
The suspension was imposed Monday by Merton Hanks, the NFL’s vice president of football operations. Hanks ruled that Suh engaged in a non-football act that placed his opponent at unnecessary risk of injury.
In his letter to Suh, Hanks wrote, “You did not respond in the manner of someone who had lost his balance and accidentally contacted another player who was lying on the ground. This illegal contact, specifically the second step and push off with your left foot, clearly could have been avoided.”
Hanks further noted “you unnecessarily stepped on your opponent’s unprotected leg as he lay on the ground unable to protect himself.”
Cottrell’s decision means the Lions will have one of their key defensive cogs. Suh finished the season with a team-high 8 1/2 sacks and helped Detroit rank second overall and first in run defense.