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Dirty Play, The Lions' Turnaround and Samson: A Biblical Analysis of Ndamukong Suh


The alleged dirtiness of our star defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh, seems to be a hot topic this year. After his rookie year featuring events like the near-beheading of Jake Delhomme, (not to mention the absolutely out of line brutal beating of Jay Cutler that earned a well-deserved fine) Ndamukong Suh started off this year with the same type of vicious assault on Andy Dalton, and has continued to toe the line separating football and out-and-out psychopathy all year. So, is Ndamukong Suh a dirty player. Allow me to add some perspective to the question. I come to you from two perspectives: As a Detroit Lions fan since the age of 4, ever since I picked up a Mike Cofer football card at a camp carnival; and as an Orthodox Jew with a pretty good knowledge of the Old Testament, working towards eventually becoming a Rabbi. I see many parallels between Ndamukong Suh and the story of Samson the Warrior, found in The Book Of Judges, which will hopefully shed some light onto what I think Ndamukong Suh means to this team.

The Book of Judges is, by far, my favorite book in The Bible. Most characters in The Bible you may recall as pretty good guys. I personally think there are more shades of grey involved, but I think we can all agree that Moses is perceived as a pretty good human being, not exactly a morally troubling figure. That's most of The Bible. Not the Book Of Judges. The Book of Judges is full of extremely flawed, morally ambiguous heroes. It's quite a fascinating read.  The Book Of Judges is also unique in that it comes with a spoiler at the beginning. Chapter 2, Verses 11-23 outline how this all is going to go down. Jews serve God, things go well. Jews turn to idol worship, things will start going bad. God appoints a judge, who saves them from their enemy, and gets them to worship God again, things go good again. Judge dies, things start going bad again. The cycle repeats itself throughout the book. 
Now, what's going on when we get to Samson? Samson is all the way in Chapter 13, the cycle has repeated itself a bunch of times to this point. The Saga of Samson begins (all translations of Bible are from mechon-mamre.org, unless otherwise noted:

1 And the children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. {P}

So, there's that cycle again. They're doing bad things, and the Phillistines rule over them. What's interesting about this though is the length of time. Forty years is a pretty long time. It is the longest time the Israelites have been under foreign power at this point in the book. Keep that in mind. So, naturally, keeping in with the cycle, there must arise a savior. But here, unlike, other stories, we have an origin story of said savior. I'll quote the chapter in full, and then pick some of it part. It's a very strange chapter, and I'm not going to be able to handle every single question, as I'm still trying to keep it to Ndamukon Suh. But here goes.

2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bore not. 3 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her: 'Behold now, thou art barren, and hast not borne; but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing. 5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come upon his head; for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb; and he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.' 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying: 'A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible; and I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name; 7 but he said unto me: Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing; for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb to the day of his death.' {P}

8 Then Manoah entreated the LORD, and said: 'Oh, LORD, I pray Thee, let the man of God whom Thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.' 9 And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field; but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and told her husband, and said unto him: 'Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me that day.' 11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him: 'Art thou the man that spokest unto the woman?' And he said: 'I am.' 12 And Manoah said: 'Now when thy word cometh to pass, what shall be the rule for the child, and what shall be done with him?' 13 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah: 'Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. 14 She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the grapevine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her observe.' {S} 15 And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD: 'I pray thee, let us detain thee, that we may make ready a kid for thee.' 16 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah: 'Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread; and if thou wilt make ready a burnt-offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD.' For Manoah knew not that he was the angel of the LORD. 17 And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD: 'What is thy name, that when thy words come to pass we may do thee honour?' 18 And the angel of the LORD said unto him: 'Wherefore askest thou after my name, seeing it is hidden?' {P}

19 So Manoah took the kid with the meal-offering, and offered it upon the rock unto the LORD; and [the angel] did wondrously, and Manoah and his wife looked on. 20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar; and Manoah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah or to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. 22 And Manoah said unto his wife: 'We shall surely die, because we have seen God.' 23 But his wife said unto him: 'If the LORD were pleased to kill us, He would not have received a burnt-offering and a meal-offering at our hand, neither would He have shown us all these things, nor would at this time have told such things as these.' 24 And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the spirit of the LORD began to move him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. {P}

So, if you stuck with the archaic english, some things would stick out at you, namely, Manoah and his wife are pretty much acting like idiots here. Manoah is not going to believe any statement until he sees it himself, not believing his wife, not believing the angel at his word, then not believing that he's going to live, until his wife says "Okay, let's all calm down here". More notably, Manoah's wife, who has no name, doesn't do anything. She's barren, and has no children. There are many characters in The Bible who are barren and have no children (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Hannah). All of them do something about it, and are named in the text. Manoah's wife does not, and is not named in the text, and is not really seen doing anything. Manoah is typified by his incredulity, his wife by her passivity. They both seem to not be suffering, just sort of content in their day to day lives. Also significant is Manoah's name, which translates literally to "rest, passivity". They are promised a son "who shall begin to save the Israelites from the hands of the Phillistines", but on the condition that he stay become a Nazirite, one who abstains from wine and cutting hair.

So, Samson is born, and while I won't quote all of his exploits here, I advise you to read some of them on your own. Samson is a violent, lying, psychopath. He presents riddles and kills people when they cheat to answer them. He burns down fields by tying torches to tails of foxes to avenge his girlfriend marrying another guy after that little riddle episode. He then kills thousands of Phillistines with the jawbone of a donkey. Ultimately, he meets a tragic end by being seduced by Delilah and revealing his hair as the secret of his strength. And there's whole lot to be said about Samson, one of the more fascinating characters in The Bible, and I feel, literature as a whole. But I'm going to focus on one aspect. What was Samson's job? I feel it clear from the text, that the Israelites had grown accustomed to Phillistine rule. They had come to accept foreign subjugation as a fact of life. They needed a psychopath, an extreme personality, to snap them out of this. Someone unafraid of engaging the enemy on their own turf. Perhaps a man whose knew no boundaries, a man who could not accept moderation, an all or nothing personality. A man who you wouldn't want ingesting alcohol, for sure A man who saw things as black and white, victory and defeat. They needed a force of divine strength who would not accept a losing culture, who came to play, and to win. Samson was born to fill this need.

 

Ndamukong Suh was drafted by The Detroit Lions after the horror that was the Matt Millen years. Just two years removed from a historically putrid 2008 0-16 season, and immediately following an "improvement" at 2-14, Ndamukong Suh came into a losing culture. The Lions did not expect to win games. We expected to be ruled over and downtrodden by foreign powers, especially on their turf. Into this culture comes Ndamukong Suh. Ndamukong Suh has no concept of being a loser. Ndamukong Suh comes to play, and comes to win. Coming into a Big 12 Championship Game against a heavily favored Texas, Ndamukong Suh brings his A Game, which amounts to 12 tackles, 7 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks. So, coming into Detroit, Suh does not view himself as a member of a losing franchise. Perhaps he realizes that he must get this team to believe again. So, in a preseason game for crying out loud, he nearly rips Jake Delhomme's head off.
Look at this play. Then look at it again.

Suh smashes Delhomme! (via Shinmaryche)

Is this a play made by a man who expects to lose? Does this look like the actions of a member of a losing franchise, cashing in a paycheck and hoping to Suck for Luck? Forget that, does this look like the action of a sane person? 
No, No, and No.
This is the play on which our franchise turns around. If Suh does not grab Delhomme by the neck and treat him like a Pez Dispenser, we do not go on a four game win streak to end 2010. We do not come back from 20 points down against the Vikings, and we do not come back against the Cowboys. We spend all those games feeling too sorry for ourself to play. This is irrefutable fact. Ndamukong Suh woke The Lions from their collective slumber, and gave them the confidence to restore the roar. By playing like a psychopath.
So, when you watch the Lions, you may look at Ndamukong Suh as a great defensive tackle. And you'd be right. But I see more. I see a biblical warrior, flowing locks of unkempt hair floating behind him, as he charges into battle against passivity and defeatism. You may see unnecessary roughness penalties. I see necessary inspiration. You may say "Fines!", I say "Fine!". With the jawbone of a donkey, sacks upon sacks, with the jawbone of a donkey, I have smitten thousands of quarterbacks. May he judge Detroit for 20 years or more. 

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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