Safe to say, the Lions’ defense does not care too much about making friends around the NFL. Not that they should care about this, mind you; their objective is to stop opponents, and in general they’ve done a decent job of this, ranking eighth in the NFL in passing yards allowed and 16th in rushing yards allowed. To get stops, a defense sometimes has to get nasty – and, in the process, earn an opponent’s ire.
But the Lions go beyond that baseline level of opponent irritation. Case in point: Ndmaukong Suh. He doesn’t just get under people’s skin – he’s the most-disliked player in the NFL. People have been accusing the Lions of dirty play since last season. (And their coach isn’t too bad at hitting a nerve, either.) And the latest example: Suh’s interior line mate, Nick Fairley. Fairley’s coming into his own this year with 4.5 sacks – two of them against the Packers yesterday. But if he’d gone through with something he started to do during yesterday’s game, no one would be talking about his play at all. What do we mean? This:
That’s right: Fairley very nearly picked up an opposing player and body slammed him to the ground. And not just any player: the quarterback, the guy you’re least allowed to pull a dirty hit on. And not just any quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, the guy who beat the Lions yesterday with 19-of-27 passing and two touchdowns. Fairley – who’s got a bit of a history with this move – would have been in a world of trouble if he’d brought that world of hurt on Rodgers.
Thankfully, he eased up. The Lions don’t want to be that hated. As for Rodgers, here’s how the experience of being picked up and almost thrown to the ground by a 300-pound man went:
Aaron Rodgers on what he was thinking when Nick Fairley picked him up: “What are you doing?”
— Wes Hodkiewicz (@WesHod) November 19, 2012
We might have been thinking that too. That or “pleasedontdothispleasedontdothispleasedontdothis.” And if Fairley really wanted to get under Rodgers’ skin, he’d have picked him up… then whispered in his ear, “You’re much smaller than I thought you’d be.” If you’d rather see the play in video form, here you go.