Lions coach Jim Schwartz: Ndamukong Suh crash no issue


Eric Lacy/ The Detroit News

Lions coach Jim Schwartz says he isn’t worried about the car crash defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was involved in last weekend in Portland, Ore.

Schwartz told a Detroit radio station Tuesday he believes Suh is under “too much of a microscope” because of the incident.

“We just worry about him on the field,” Schwartz told 97.1 during his weekly radio appearance. “Ndamukong is a hard-working guy; he hasn’t had any kind of issues with the law, including this one. Let’s worry about him on the field and those things, get him back playing well.”

Schwartz told the station he heard Suh wasn’t injured in the crash, but said he hasn’t been allowed to contact Suh because of the player’s two-game suspension. Suh stomped on the right arm of Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving Day, was ejected, and then suspended by the NFL.

“He can’t be in our building, that’s why he’s in his hometown of Portland,” Schwartz said. “He can’t go to meetings. We can’t have contact with him. We did get word that he was uninjured, and that’s about all we really know.”

Suh served the first game of his suspension last weekend and is off the active roster for Sunday’s home game against Minnesota. He’s expected to return for the Dec. 18 game at Oakland.

Suh’s image took a hit after his ejection, and remains under scrutiny because of the crash. Schwartz, however, claims the criticism of Suh’s character isn’t more of a problem than that of any other player.

“I’m concerned about every player we have,” Schwartz said. “I think that was not something he wants on his resume, particularly after what happened on Thanksgiving. And in fairness to him, that’s really the first thing he had after the whistle, something that wasn’t part of the play.”

Russell Spielman, Suh’s marketing agent, wouldn’t speculate about his client possibly losing endorsement deals with Chrysler, Subway and Nike, or if Suh plans on speaking publicly about his off-field problems before his suspension ends Dec. 12.

“When we’re ready to speak, we’ll speak,” Spielman said

More than a fender bender

Schwartz described Suh’s accident as a “fender bender,” but a police report obtained by The Detroit News paints a slightly different picture.

The report includes interviews from two female passengers among the three passengers in Suh’s vehicle.

The women claim Suh was driving his 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle at an uncontrollable speed around 1:14 a.m. on Dec. 3 in downtown Portland before the car spun and crashed into a light pole, water fountain and tree near Dante’s night club.

Police amended the original report after the passengers reported their injuries, but no citations will be issued and no one will be charged, police said.

Suh told police he tried to drive around a parked taxi on the dry, paved street before he lost control of his vehicle.

The two women, according to the report, claim otherwise.

“There was never a taxi,” a passenger told police. “He was just going too fast and he could have killed someone at Dante’s.”

Attempts by The News to reach employees at Dante’s were unsuccessful.

Police also didn’t administer a sobriety test on Suh because they said he showed no signs of impairment. Police also said Suh was “very cooperative” after the crash and provided a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance.

Attempts by The News to reach Suh were unsuccessful.

The report also said two female passengers were hurt in the crash and required hospitalization. The second injured person was quoted as saying, “He was driving unsafe. It was just clear to me that we were going too fast.”

It also mentions one injured passenger had a “laceration to her forehead that required five stitches, a black eye, a ‘busted’ lip and a torn shoulder muscle.”

Suh, according to police, called 9-1-1 to report the crash. A Portland TV station, KGW, obtained a recording of that call.

When asked, “Are you sure you don’t need an ambulance?” the station reported Suh replied, “Yes, everyone is fine.”

Yet, in the police report, a passenger said she told Suh repeatedly she was hurt and needed a doctor. She said he refused and told her she was fine.

She had her husband pick her up and take her to Oregon Health and Science University for treatment.

Messages left on the cell phone of Blaine Smith, a witness mentioned in the police report, weren’t returned.

A witness named Allan, who also called 9-1-1 to report the crash, spoke Monday to KGW.

He said the driver “floored it” when a stoplight turned green at 3rd and Burnside streets. He said it looked like the driver was trying to “show off.”

Allan also told KGW there were no cars in front of Suh’s vehicle and he did not see a taxi.

Two of the passengers told police they wanted their names to remain confidential because they feared for their safety because Suh has “lots of friends and family” in the Portland area.

Past accidents

The accident last weekend wasn’t the first such incident Suh has been involved in.

Last year, Suh was in an accident in Royal Oak (11 Mile and Campbell) with a 30-year-old Shelby Township woman.

Police said the woman was at fault because she disobeyed a traffic signal as she attempted to turn southbound on Campbell.

The woman’s Honda Civic struck Suh’s Land Rover as he headed east on 11 Mile.

Suh wasn’t injured, and alcohol wasn’t involved, but police said the woman suffered minor injuries.

According to the Associated Press report, Suh was in an accident at Nebraska.

Suh pled guilty to negligent driving and paid a $60 fine after crashing into three parked cars.

Suh, reportedly driving his mother’s SUV, said he swerved to avoid a cat. He also paid $48 in court costs.

eric.lacy@detnews.com

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