There are certain things you don’t do in sports, and one of them is what Ndamukong Suh did to Matt Schaub during the Texans-Lions game on Thanksgiving.
You don’t kick a man in the tenders.
You don’t fling a cleat at a man’s coin purse.
You don’t give new dimension to the word foot-ball.
You just don’t.
Not in any sport. Not under any circumstances. Not by accident. Not on purpose. Not in football. Not in basketball. Not in baseball. Not in badminton. Not in anything. Not no way. Not no how.
It’s simply understood. It’s written in the stars. It’s written in every locker room in America. It’s written in every locker room from Tallahassee to Timbuktu. It’s written into the consciousness of every male athlete who ever lived, who ever played. It’s man code. You avoid the danger zone at all costs. So let it be written, so let it be undone.
I watched that play 50 times — Suh pressuring Schaub as the quarterback unloaded the ball, the defensive lineman extending his leg at Schaub and planting his foot straight into the family jewels, sending Schaub to the turf in the fetal position — and my reaction every time was the same as it was the first time:
Great balls of fire!
I never use exclamation points because it’s overkill — it’s like swinging a sledgehammer to smash a gnat.
Let me restate my reaction in the TV den that day with more exactness:
Great balls of fire!!!!!!!
There were two football fans, alongside three others, in the room watching the same game who thought what Suh did wasn’t really all that bad. They were both women.
The rest of us, the guys, took it like men. We dropped to the floor and screamed bloody murder. We wept like babies. We ached. We said prayers. We held a vigil. We consoled one another, as each not so discreetly checked his own package to make sure everything was … you know, gathered and in order.
The ladies in the room laughed.
Yeah, that’s right. They grinned and giggled.
It was the equivalent of a husband busting a gut while his wife gave birth to a 9-pound infant. There’s nothing funny about that. Or this. There’s nothing but reverence and pain.
The NFL announced on Monday that Suh would not be held out of games by the league for the foot to Schaub’s nether region: “Our office has notified the Lions that Ndamukong Suh will not be suspended for last Thursday’s incident,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement.
Just when you thought there was no justice, no humanity, no feeling of good brotherhood in the NFL offices, the statement went on … “It will be reviewed for a potential fine.”
I think the league should fine Suh up the wa-Suh. And it already would have — and probably suspended him, too — if it could have proved he extended the kick deliberately. Suh was sort of face-planting while he threw the leg out, so the evidence of ill intent wasn’t completely clear.
But it was clear enough to most of us.
A man should know full well not to swing his cleat in the general direction of another man’s knap sack.
I swear that was etched, if not on the wall of a pyramid in Egypt or on an ancient tablet somewhere, at least in concrete on the floor of Lambeau Field. No wonder Suh was voted the dirtiest player, and the least liked, in the NFL. The vote was taken among men. Men who understand the rule.
Gordon Monson hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.