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Associated Press

Suh him

Hey, at least Ndamukong Suh isn't Chuck Bednarik.

You children among the Blobophiles won't remember this, but back in the day, when Bednarik was a two-way player for the Eagles so tough they dubbed him Concrete Charlie, Frank Gifford of the Giants wandered into his airspace across the middle.

Bednarik, in a word, laid him out. And what I mean by that is, "knocked him colder than a CEO's heart." And while Gifford was lying there unconscious (or perhaps dead, because that's what it looked like), Bednarik did an impromptu war dance over his limp body.

So you'll forgive me if I chuckle a little over this week's flap about Suh, the Lions' deliciously wicked defensive tackle, taunting/not taunting an injured Matt Ryan of the Falcons in Sunday's Lions' loss.

I suspect that, somewhere, everyone who ever played linebacker or D-line in the history of the NFL is having a good chuckle, too.

Listen, boys and girls: What Suh did or didn't do isn't anything that defensive players in the NFL haven't been doing for eons. Bednarik laying out Gifford. Dick Butkus rhapsodizing about artificial turf because he loved the way ballcarriers' heads bounced off it when he hit 'em. Bubba Smith and Deacon Jones and an entire cavalcade of mad-dog D-linemen terrorizing various NFL quarterbacks.

In other words: Defensive players -- and in particular linemen and linebackers -- have always been blackhearted devils, and so Suh is merely upholding the legacy (and for a team that, frankly, has been missing his kind of nasty for some time now). We only think he's outrageous because we've become lulled to sleep by today's gelded NFL, in which the pass rush has essentially been legislated out of existence, and any sort of significant contact at all with QBs and wide receivers draws an automatic flag.

(I've often wondered what Johnny Unitas could have done playing by the rules of the modern-day NFL. God, it wouldn't be fair).

Anyway ... when I hear all this business about Suh being a dirty player, I think about Bednarik figuratively dancing on Gifford's grave. And about Conrad Dobler, who was famous for biting opposing players down in the trenches. And about a couple of Green Bay Packers during the Lombardi heyday, who once found themselves holding onto an opposing running back by the legs -- one of them holding one leg, one holding the other.

"Make a wish, baby," one Packer quipped to the other.

Now, that's nasty.

Ben Smith's blog.