MIKE O'HARA

Writers stick up for Ndamukong Suh when Ravens' player goes unpunished

Posted Feb 11, 2013

Mike O'Hara takes a look at Peter King's comment that the NFL wouldn't have let Suh off the hook had he shoved an official during a game

Locker room law – rights and wrongs in the Monday Countdown Court of My Opinions.

This week's docket includes the Hall of Fame – the selectors got it right again, but an old Lion remains a glaring omission – further evidence of the profiling of Ndamukong Suh, questions about an NFL rule that was highlighted in the Super Bowl, Judge Dread looking ahead to an outdoor northern Super Bowl, and other issues that appeal to time misspent at the bar.

The Countdown closes out with The Question of the Week, but we start with the Hall of Fame:

1. Justice served: There has been hardly a hint of controversy over the 46-member Board of Selectors voting in the maximum of seven members in the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2013.

The reason is obvious. The three new Hall members who create the most controversy all got in – wide receiver Cris Carter, defensive tackle Warren Sapp and Coach Bill Parcells.

Sapp was on the ballot for the first time. Carter and Parcells had missed the final cut multiple times before this year, and their backers howled long and loud.

And a largely unpopular finalist, the late Art Modell, former owner of the Browns and Ravens, didn't make it. Had Modell been voted in, it would have had the effect of a 1960s flower child showing up at the NRA's national convention and asking its members to exchange guns for mums.

The other four voted into the Hall were two from the modern era, offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen, and two senior candidates, defensive tackle Curley Culp and linebacker David Robinson.

A good class, with no complaints.
 
Alex Karras2. Justice denied: Alex Karras, a dominating defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions from 1958-70, remains a shocking omission. More shocking is the fact that he has never been up for consideration since his retirement after the 1970 season, despite his Hall-worthy credentials.

Karras made the Pro Bowl four times, was voted first team All-Pro three times, and made the NFL's all-decade team of the 1960s.

Making the all-decade team is especially significant because of the company Karras is in as one of three tackles. The other two, Bob Lilly and Merlin Olsen, are in the Hall of Fame, as are all three defensive ends – Deacon Jones, Doug Atkins and Willie Davis.

Despite his obvious credentials, there has never been a strong push to put Karras in the Hall. The strongest sentiment arose when he died on Oct. 10.

One long-time selector called the omission of Karras "a shame." His only chance now is as a nominee by the Hall's seniors committee.

A story related to me second-hand long ago attests to how Karras was viewed by his peers and coaches. According to the story, Hall of Fame coach Don Shula once was asked several years ago if there was one player he thought had been overlooked. Without hesitating, Shula replied: "Alex Karras."

The fact that Karras was suspended for the 1963 season for gambling has been cited as the reason for his exclusion from the Hall of Fame. That's baloney. Packers great Paul Hornung also was suspended that season for gambling, and Hornung's in the Hall of Fame.
 
3. Profiling Suh: Sports Illustrated's Peter King reacted quickly when word leaked out Saturday evening that the NFL would not fine or suspend Ravens cornerback Cary Williams for shoving an official during a scrum in Super Bowl XVII.

"Suh does that, and he's gone for the first game of 2013," King said on Twitter.

King's comment was not a knock on Suh, but a knock on the NFL for not punishing Williams.

NFL rules expressly prohibit players from putting their hands on officials. Whatever his intent was, Williams shoved the official and should have been suspended.

Suh has been suspended once and fined multiple times by the NFL for his play on the field, but that's not the point in the incident with Williams. Violations involving players and officials are separate and should have nothing to do with reputation.

Plainly, Williams beat the rap. I doubt if Suh would have been so lucky.
 
4. Open season on zebras: NFL officials ought to be most upset about the decision not to discipline Williams.

They were locked out until after the third regular season game, when the NFL negotiated a new contract after the embarrassments of the replacement officials, and now they've let a player shove an official with no penalty.
 
5. Safety valve: Some folks are shrieking to have the rule tweaked as it relates to a team taking a deliberate safety.

With the ball on their eight-yard line and punter Sam Koch taking the snap in the end zone, the Ravens used a common strategy in that situation of having the blockers hold, or tackle, any 49er rushing the punter.

The ball was snapped with 12 seconds left. Koch danced around long enough in the end zone to take off eight seconds before he went out of bounds, leaving four seconds on the clock. There wasn't enough time left for the 49ers to do anything with the ensuing punt.

Holding in the end zone is an automatic safety, but since the Ravens' plan was to take a safety, there was no real punishment for deliberately holding. The refs couldn't call two safeties.

Some are saying the rule should be changed, to put time back on the clock for deliberately holding. Why? Because the Ravens were smart enough to use the rules to their advantage?

I say leave the rule the way it is. The answer in any game, from exhibition season to Super Bowl, is to not get yourself in that spot.

The only real beef on the play is that no officials threw a flag for holding.

Maybe they were afraid of being whacked by Cary Williams.

6. Super Bowl storm alert: It is 51 weeks until Super Bowl XLVIII, scheduled for Feb. 2, 2014 at MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. It is the first time the NFL has scheduled the Super Bowl for an outdoor stadium in a cold-weather locale.

Previously, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Indianapolis and Detroit have hosted the Super Bowl, but always in an indoor stadium.

The blizzard that hit the Northeast on Friday is a harbinger of the worst fears of playing the game outdoors.

Beginning Friday, thousands of flights were cancelled. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg cautioned citizens to stay indoors and "read a good book."

Travel issues aren't the issue. Detroit, Indy and the Twin Cities would be similarly affected by a snowstorm, but indoor stadiums would eliminate any effect on playing conditions.

What happens if a storm hits New York/New Jersey during Super Bowl week? How many resources are devoted to getting the stadium ready to play a football game?

If it's as much as one snow shovel, there will be an outcry of favoritism for the privileged. No one should forget how the 2012 New York Marathon ultimately was canceled in reaction to the outcry of citizens after Hurricane Sandy.
 
7. Cornering the draft: I'd bet that there is a 95-percent chance that the Detroit Lions will take a defensive player with the fifth-overall pick on April 25, with a pass rusher the priority. That's where the strength is at the top of the draft, with either a pure defensive end or a hybrid end-outside linebacker.

Cornerback Dee Milliner of Alabama is being touted as the Lions' pick in some mock drafts, but not mine. He's the best cornerback in the draft, but a cornerback drafted that high should be an impact player. Milliner doesn't fill that requirement.

A comparison could be made to the 2002 draft, when the Lions had the third pick. Then-coach Marty Mornhinweg wanted cornerback Quentin Jammer. The Detroit Lions' front office, led by president Matt Millen and former personnel director Bill Tobin, wanted quarterback Joey Harrington.

Harrington was the Lions' pick and endured four torturous seasons in Detroit before being traded to Miami.

Jammer was drafted fifth overall by the San Diego Chargers and has spent all 11 seasons with them. He's been solid, but nothing more. Jammer's started every game except two in the last 10 seasons, but has never made a Pro Bowl, and has 21 career interceptions. That's one less pick than an average of two per season.

The Lions could have done better than drafting Harrington, but the Chargers could have gotten more help in the secondary than Jammer has given them. Down at pick No. 24, safety Ed Reed went to Baltimore.
 
8. Question of the week: Is the reaction to Titus Young being cut by the Lions and claimed by the Rams a surprise?

No surprise. Lions fans saw Young for two seasons, and the penalties and behavior made an impression that most fans feel warranted dumping him as soon as possible. In St. Louis, fans see a second-round draft pick who played opposite Calvin Johnson for two years.

To them, it's a no-risk pickup, and they're right – unless Young becomes a distraction to the team the way he was in Detroit. Young's track record indicates that fans in St. Louis will see what fans in Detroit saw.