Joe Lapointe has worked as a sports reporter with the New York Times and a segment producer for "Countdown With Keith Olbermann'' on Current TV
For the second consecutive Thanksgiving, Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions put the foot back in football while the sports world watched on national TV. This time Suh’s cleats clipped Houston quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin.
Two days later, with a chance to salvage the national football image of the Great Lakes State, the Michigan Wolverines lost to Ohio State in part because they cooled the heels of their best player, Denard Robinson, who runs great distances with loose shoelaces and, once on Saturday, with just one shoe.
First, the Lions. Some of their fans are blaming Detroit’s 34-31overtime defeat on mistakes by game officials and Lions’ coach Jim Schwartz. Their poor decision and his illegal challenge of it indeed helped give the Texans a touchdown they didn’t deserve on Thursday.
But despite this valid point, the cosmic rough justice emanated from their footloose defensive tackle, who was suspended two games last year for stomping a Green Bay Packer and will almost certainly be suspended again Monday by the National Football League.
Please don’t claim it was an accident by Suh, who has added alleged road rage to his recent rap sheet. Someone has to put their foot down on a man accused of menacing one of his team’s own fans on the freeway.
When you unleash negative karma the way Suh did early in Thursday’s game, it’s bound to come back and bite you in the butt. And that happened on Houston’s phantom touchdown. Yes, the runner was down; yes, they should change the silly rule that overly punishes a team when a coach emotionally throws a forbidden flag to demand a just review.
Another figurative kick to the posterior came when Jason Hanson’s field goal attempt left his right foot and hit an upright in O.T. Trace that bad luck, too, to the vibes of a bad boy named Suh.
How did his behavior reflect on The Motor City, which tries so hard to promote its revival on these telecasts with halftime musical pageants and commercials extolling the virtues of the city?
Two days later, Michigan had a chance to salvage the football image of the Great Lakes State on a national telecast by upsetting undefeated Ohio State in Columbus.
Instead, the Wolverines lost, 26-21, in large part because of bizarre coaching by Brady Hoke of the Wolverines. While it would be unfair to start rhyming Hoke’s last name in unflattering ways, he still must explain his baffling use of Denard Robinson in the second half Saturday.
Robinson, a senior quarterback playing his final game with an injured arm, could not pass. But in the first half, he gained 124 yards on six carries, one a 67-yard touchdown run. (Note to Suh: He kicked nobody as he galloped through a stadium nicknamed “The Horseshoe.”)
But in the second half, Robinson ran for minus-two yards, including a fumble, on only four carries. Even with a bad hand, Robinson was still Michigan’s best player, much like Ted Ginn used to be with Ohio State and Tim Brown with Notre Dame.
So why not find a way to get Robinson into the game and cradle the ball in his good arm? Let him run with pitchouts. Or run back kickoffs. Or run back punts. Or run pass patterns. Or with handoffs. Or something!
In the name of Bo Schembechler, how can a coach like Hoke keep a player like Robinson off the field for most of the fourth quarter when his team is one play away from upsetting the Buckeyes?
Robinson accumulated more than 10,000 yards at Michigan. That’s more than 100 football fields. He should not have had to end his college career Saturday on the sidelines.
Hoke is off to a decent start after replacing Rich Rodriguez. But a few more games like Saturday will bring calls in Ann Arbor to give him the boot.
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