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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Tim Twentyman: Top cornerbacks will be gone before Lions pick, Kiper says


Tim Twentyman: NFL Insider

Mel Kiper Jr., who has been ESPN’s point man on the NFL draft since 1984, has some bad news for Lions fans hoping to snag a cornerback in the first round.

Kiper said the Lions’ top four needs are cornerback, outside linebacker, offensive tackle and defensive end. But he thinks there’s little chance the Lions get a corner deserving of the No. 13 pick.

LSU’s Patrick Peterson and Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara are considered the top two corners in the draft. After Peterson and Amukamara, Kiper said the rest of the corners are more deserving of late-first round to second-round consideration.

Peterson is considered a top-five pick and Kiper doesn’t think there’s any way the Lions have a chance at Amukamara unless they move up.

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“I just can’t see (Amukamara) getting past Dallas (at No. 9),” he said. “Surprises happen every draft, and you never say never, but right now, I have a tough time getting him down to Dallas. I thought he’d fit in good with a couple teams earlier; San Francisco (No. 7) could look corner. I do think at No. 13 that would be a stretch to try and get him.”

Kiper still thinks the Lions will take UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers, which would certainly fill a need.

But Kiper also alluded to a possible wild-card selection.

“I have (offensive tackle) Nate Soder out of Colorado going one pick ahead of the Lions at No. 12,” Kiper said. “He’s had a nice week down at Mobile so far (Senior Bowl), which you knew he would.

“I think he has the most upside out of any lineman in the draft, be it offensive lineman or defensive lineman. He’s a former tight end. He’s a chiseled kid. He’s going to keep getting better and better because of limited experience on the offensive line.

“The history of tight end-turned-offensive tackles in the NFL over the last 35 years is pretty good. I think he would be an interesting guy. He’s the only one right now of the offensive tackles that I think has a chance to really jump up. I think Soder is going to be the hot guy because of the upside and the fact that he’s that diamond in the rough; he’s going to keep getting better and better.”

If the Lions pass on Ayers for Soder, or Amukamara drops, Kiper said there are good 4-3 outside linebackers available in the second, third and fourth rounds that will fit the Lions’ needs.

He named Bruce Carter (North Carolina), Lawrence Wilson (Connecticut), Mason Foster (Washington) and Ross Homan (Ohio State) as possibilities for the Lions later in the draft.

By the numbers

$83,000 — Payout for each player on the winning team in Super Bowl XVL

$42,000 — Payout for each player on the losing team

$15,000 — Payout for each player on the winning team in Super Bowl I (1967)

$7,500 — Payout for each player on the losing team

Air attack

Still don’t think the NFL is a passing league? A record 22 quarterbacks passed for 3,000 yards or more this season. The previous high was 19 in 2001 and 2009.

Philip Rivers, Chargers — 4,710

Peyton Manning, Colts — 4,700

Drew Brees, Saints — 4,620

Matt Schaub, Texans — 4,370

Eli Manning, Giants — 4,002

Carson Palmer, Bengals — 3,970

Aaron Rodgers, Packers — 3,922

Tom Brady, Patriots — 3,900

Matt Ryan, Falcons — 3,705

Kyle Orton, Broncos — 3,653

Joe Flacco, Ravens — 3,622

Sam Bradford, Rams — 3,512

Josh Freeman, Buccaneers — 3,451

Donovan McNabb, Redskins — 3,377

Chad Henne, Dolphins — 3,301

Mark Sanchez, Jets — 3,291

Jay Cutler, Bears — 3,274

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers — 3,200

Matt Cassel, Chiefs — 3,116

Michael Vick, Eagles — 3,018

Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks — 3,001

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills — 3,000

He said it

“The entire senior leadership team stands with me in its commitment to resolving the CBA issues with the players union. While several other executives have also volunteered to make additional reductions to their compensation, I have asked them not to take that step at this time as we continue our negotiating efforts.”

— NFL commisioner Roger Goodell, who said he’ll cut his salary to $1 if there is a work stoppage after the collective bargaining agreement expires in March. Goodell makes $10 million per year.

ttwentyman@detnews.com