It’s been a tough offseason for Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. First, many accused him of not doing all he could to help the team financially. Now, considering he missed the first round of voluntary team workouts, many are accusing him of being a bad teammate.
From the beginning, it’s been clear that Suh is his own person, both on and off the field. No amount of public outrage is going to change his opinion or outlook, nor force him to act a certain way, do certain things or be a different person.
Love him or hate him, it’s time for Detroit fans to let Suh be himself most of all. Not every player fits into the cookie cutter mold of what the media and fans define as “the perfect teammate” or “perfect player.” Despite what many think or project, that player might not currently exist in the NFL.
It’s easy for many to target Suh for these shots in his own city because many don’t like his past on-field antics, nor appreciate the fact that he’s an individual. In spite of that, Suh has not yet missed a mandatory team appearance, hasn’t done anything to undermine his role with his fellow teammates and by all accounts, remains a player that the important people within the organization still value.
If Suh doesn’t tune out all the noise, there’s a chance Detroit’s vitriol could very well drive him out of town eventually. It seems that’s the goal of many who criticize and over-analyze his every move. If they ride Suh long enough, they figure he’ll simply choose to leave on his own and become someone else’s problem. For those who wish that, the phrase “be careful what you wish for” applies.
The essence of the NFL is freedom of expression and choice. Jim Caldwell wasn’t blindsided that Suh missed the non-mandatory workout, and reported he’s been in contact with Suh during the offseason as much as any other player. Had Suh been off the grid, that would have been reason for concern, but he’s done his own thing, and by all accounts, continues to prepare for the season on his own. Suh has also been a consistent player during the season.
As long as Suh is back for mandatory team activities, returns for training camp in July and suits up for the opening game in September, that’s all that should matter. How he chooses to handle his offseason in the meantime is his business.
Love him or hate him, it’s simply time to let Suh, a unique individual, be himself for the rest of his Lions’ career.