This isn’t new territory.
A new coach hasn’t changed anything. They’re still the dirty Detroit Lions.
Center Dominic Raiola proved on Sunday why he is the most feared and most hated NFL player at the same time. He stepped on the right leg of Chicago defensive lineman Ego Ferguson like it was an empty soda can. And then he unwisely said that it was “unintentional.”
Raiola has been disciplined five times since 2010 including twice this season. Even toddlers begin to curb their behavior after being told not to do something.
Unfortunately the 35-year-old, who is in his 14th season in the NFL, is just a microcosm of how the Lions work. Since 2011, the Lions have been disciplined 42 times and have amassed 10 suspensions. And that doesn’t even count Sunday’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Jimmy Clausen that should land a fine for Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah.
That isn’t just a gigantic number, it’s scary. These guys are well aware of and understand the risks involved with playing professional football. What they’re not happy to swallow is an injury caused by someone being senseless and unprofessional.
The Packers by contrast have been disciplined 22 times in that same span and have six suspensions.
The only way to end this is to hit the players harder in the pocketbook. For example, a football tossed into the stands is a $5,512 fine for a first offense. A chop block is a $8,268 fine for a first offense. Players must be held more accountable to make them at least think twice about stepping on someone’s leg or trying to take someone’s head off.
Or the NFL could also put the consistent troublemakers on a strike system. If they get disciplined three times they are out of the league. In such a system, Raiola would already be carving out his second career by now.
The Packers have more horses than the Lions. They’re better at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive line and secondary. I don’t see any reason why the Lions wouldn’t want to try something crazy and do anything to win.
But at the same time, unnecessary play should never have to be game-planned against. That’s when the NFL turns into the WWE and it becomes more of a steel-cage death match than a real football game.
But unfortunately that’s who the Lions have become. They can beat you with a Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson bomb and a Raiola foot-stomp. And then there’s the argument that screams that it’s the heat of the moment and you cannot just turn off your adrenaline.
When Raiola was taught this game, I highly doubt it included foot-stomping. Nor does being a great defensive lineman like Ndamukong Suh call for stomping on Evan Dietrich-Smith, trying to behead Jake Delhomme, giving a forearm shiver to the head of Jay Cutler or kicking Matt Schaub in the groin.
This team needs an intervention. Suh has already met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but apparently that meeting hasn’t done much because Suh has been disciplined four times since they met in 2011.
The Lions apparently don’t understand that this behavior isn’t just wrong, it’s unacceptable. The NFL must find a way to get this across to Detroit or the culture of craziness is never going to stop.
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn