Ndamukong Suh’s Bad-Behavior Fines Mean NFL Charities Prosper

Ndamukong Suh has become a regular contributor to National Football League charities.

The Detroit Lions’ defensive tackle had a $100,000 fine for a Sept. 8 low block upheld on Oct. 11 after an appeal before retired Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk, according to the Associated Press. Suh has been fined $177,500 since he joined the league in 2010, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The NFL has collected about $4 million in fines each of the previous four years and donates the money to charitable programs, including the NFL Player Care Foundation and the NFL union’s Players Assistance Trust, which help downtrodden players get back on their feet.

Fining players has been effective in changing behavior across the league. The fines are supposed to increase 5 percent annually, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, but the minimum fines this season remained at 2012 levels because the players seem to be adjusting to the rules, NFL spokesman Mike Signora said in an interview.

The number of fines declined 32 percent from 2009 to 2012, Signora said, dropping to 451 from 668. Meanwhile, fines for illegal hits on quarterbacks fell to 61 from 114, or 46 percent, over the same period.

John Lynch, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety and Fox Sports analyst, said he sees “players making an effort” and that changes in the CBA calling for an independent judge to review appeals has made the system fairer.

“It used to be that no one believed this was a truly independent arbitrator; the league was judge and jury,” Lynch said in a telephone interview. “Maybe it’s become a little more independent and when they get people in there like Matt Birk, who many of them have played against, they trust the system more. Matt has overturned fines. You have a fighting chance.”

Minimum Fines

Some minimum fines for first-time offenders are: physical contact with an official, $26,250; horse collar tackle, $15,750; hitting a defenseless player, $21,000; fighting, $26,250; and excessive profanity, $10,500. Minimum penalties double for a second offense.

Suh, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft from the University of Nebraska, was suspended two games his second season after he stomped on the arm of a Green Bay Packers player, and was forced to make a public apology. He was fined three times by the league before the ban and met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss how to better play within the rules.

The $100,000 fine had been the largest against a player for an on-field violation. It was matched Sept. 18 when Birk overturned Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson’s one-game suspension for spearing and replaced it with a similar fine.

DeBartolo Fine

The NFL’s largest fine against an individual was in 1999, when former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo was fined $1 million for his involvement in a gambling-fraud case. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 in 2007 after his team broke NFL rules by videotaping the New York Jets’ signals during a game. The Saints were fined the same amount in 2012 in connection for what the league determined to be a bounty program rewarding big hits.

Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams was fined $250,000 in 2009 for making obscene hand gestures during a win over the Buffalo Bills. Former All-Pro Ray Lewis also was fined $250,000, for obstructing an investigation into a double murder following a post-Super Bowl fight outside an Atlanta night club in January 2000.

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