Lions' Suh reportedly calls Goodell to apologize for stomp

CBSSports.com wire reports
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Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Sunday night to apologize for stomping on Packers right guard Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving Day, according to ESPN.

The network had previous reported that Suh is likely facing a suspension of at least two games, which could be announced as early as Tuesday.

After initially saying he was only trying to walk away from the situation, Suh issued a statement Friday that -- in a roundabout fashion -- took responsibility for stomping on Dietrich-Smith.

Suh was ejected in the third quarter following the incident, which began with Dietrich-Smith and Suh tangling on the ground and Suh bouncing Dietrich-Smith's head to the turf three times. After getting up, Suh then stomped on Dietrich-Smith's right arm before walking away.

"In the past few hours, I have had time to reflect on yesterday's game and I want to sincerely apologize for letting my teammates down, the organization, and especially to my fans who look to me for positive inspiration," Suh said in a statement released on his Facebook page.

"Playing professional sports is not a game. It is a profession with great responsibility, and where performance on and off the field should never be compromised. It requires a calm and determined demeanor, which cannot be derailed by the game, referee calls, fans or other players.

"I want to reiterate my commitment to working to become a better player, and professional -- on and off the field. My reaction on Thursday was unacceptable. I made a mistake, and have learned from it. I hope to direct the focus back to the task at hand -- by winning."

The statement was a stark contrast to Suh's post-game comments Thursday, which drew wide criticism.

"I am only apologizing to my teammates, coaches and my true fans for allowing the referee to have the opportunity to take me out of the game," Suh said after the game. "What I did was remove myself from the situation in the best way I felt. I was being held down. My intentions were not to kick anybody, as I did not. As you see, I was walking away from the situation."

Suh has already been fined three times in less than two years in the NFL, and met with Goodell last month to discuss the hits that let to those fines.

As a frame of reference, former Tennessee Titan Albert Haynesworth was suspended for five games back in 2006. Earlier this season, Minnesota's Brian Robison was fined and not suspended for kicking Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang in the groin.

The Lions appeared to be trying to get in front of the situation with their own statement Friday.

"The on-field conduct exhibited by Ndamukong Suh that led to his ejection from yesterday's game was unacceptable and failed to meet the level of sportsmanship we expect from our players," the statement said.

"Ndamukong has made many positive contributions to the Lions on and off the field. We expect his behavior going forward to consistently reflect that high standard of professionalism.

"We have been in contact with commissioner Goodell's office and were advised that, like any on-field matter, Thursday's incident is subject to review by the league office and that subsequent discipline would be determined by the league office."

Lions coach Jim Schwartz punished right tackle Gosder Cherilus for a lesser offense in the season opener, not playing him in Week 2 after he took a late personal foul penalty at Tampa Bay. Schwartz would be hard-pressed explaining to his team the double-standard if he didn't sit Suh for at least a game - playoff chase or not.

Suh's ejection was a pivotal play in the Lions 27-15 loss to the Packers. It was 7-0 and the Lions had just stopped a third-and-goal pass at the 3. The Packers' field goal team was trotting onto the field when Suh and Dietrich-Smith became entangled.

Dietrich-Smith wasn't sure what Suh's intentions were but he was sure that it wound up helping his team.

"It's a battle out there," he said. "It's not a slap and tickle game. You go out there, play hard, hit each other and stuff just happens. They ended up taking a penalty and it ended up hurting their team as a whole."

Packers cornerback Charles Woodson called it "a dirty play."

Dietrich-Smith said he didn't know what provoked Suh to go off.

"If he takes a shot, he takes a shot," Dietrich-Smith said. "I'm not out there trying to incite extra things or do any extra stuff. Stuff happens out on the football field, and it gets a little intense."

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