Ndamukong Suh is a nasty football player. Some say dirty.
The Detroit Lions defensive tackle is aggressive, to be sure. That's what makes him good in a violent, physical environment.
If you don't have an edge, you're not going to make many tackles or sack the quarterback, both of which Suh does often.
Against the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving day, Suh may - or may not - have crossed the line.
As he was being blocked in the Texans' backfield and dropped to the turf at Ford Ford in Detroit, Suh kicked out his left foot/leg and struck Houston QB Matt Schaub below the belt.
Some say the kick was intentional, another in a long list of Suh indiscretions on the football field.
Personally, I don't think it was intentional, at least not the direction in which the foot motion was made. While he may have been kicking out his leg/foot, I don't think Suh purposely aimed for Schaub's groin.
The NFL wasn't sure after a long review of the play in question. It declined to suspend the lineman, saying it couldn't determine his intent.
But the league did fine him $30,000 for unnecessary roughness.
Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas believes Suh's reputation is such that it's easy to say the lineman's kick was both intentional and illegal.
"Certainly, the perception in the NFL is he's a very dirty player," he said. "It's one thing to play hard and have physical hits in the course of a game, or be an aggressive player. But it's another to take just blatant cheap shots all the time."
Suh has been voted the NFL's dirtiest in a poll of league players. His stomping on the arm of a prone Evan Dietrich-Smith of the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving last year didn't help Suh's reputation.
He has also been fined previously for roughing up NFL quarterbacks Andy Dalton of Cincinnati, Chicago's Jay Cutler and Jake Delhomme of Cleveland. That hasn't helped his cause, either.
No doubt Lions head coach Jim Schwartz wants Suh to continue to be aggressive. If Suh changes his game to a more serene level, he may not be as effective.
It's a fine line Suh is navigating. You can bet every player or team knocking him would want his as a teammate/player, though.
Every sport has a player on the edge of being dirty. The trick is to harness that nastiness and turn it into aggressive - but legal - play.
Suh's reputation now will hurt him in the short term. In the long term, it would be nice if he was remembered for his talented, aggressive play and numerous Pro Bowl appearances.
That would go a long way in the Lions returning to respectability and - yes - a playoff berth.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.