When the Miami Dolphins made Ndamukong Suh the highest paid defensive player in NFL history, the haters came out in full force. “He can’t be controlled,” they said. “He is a selfish player and only cares about himself,” said another. Suh has been everything but selfish in his short career with the Dolphins.
The only view Dolphins’ fans had of Suh before he signed with the team was that of a psychopath maniac that steps on offensive linemen and kicks quarterbacks in the groin. That type of behavior costs your team yards and in a game of inches teams can’t afford to be giving away yards. But the more Dolphins’ fans have been exposed to Mr. Suh, the more people are starting to realize that our team has a “team first” guy who wants to lead by example.
Check out Luis Sung’s (@FLSportDebater) post on Suh’s leadership here.
Suh knows he’s coming to a talented defensive line. When asked about how he has been received by his teammates Suh said,
“I have been lucky coming into this group, I have a great d-line – Cam (Wake), OV (Olivier Vernon), (Derrick) Shelby and all the guys brought me in and just showed me the ropes. It has been a good situation, especially since OTAs and mini-camp started so it was just like picking up from that time from when we started camp to then.”
Suh faced some criticism in the media for working out on his own during voluntary team workouts but has been to every mandatory practice.
Interview after interview, player after player, there has been nothing but rave reviews about Suh’s willingness to help out his teammates and making them better. ILB Kelvin Sheppard is one of the linebackers battling for a starting spot in the middle, and he's aware of the impact Suh makes on his game as well.
“He’s the best in the game. I have great respect of the guy [Suh]." Sheppard said. “And it’s not about his greatness. It’s how he wants everyone around him to be great as well and make plays. He’s told me, ‘Hey let’s go. I’m here for you. I’ll take on two [blockers]; whatever it takes. To have a guy of his caliber telling that to me the first or second week he was here was tremendous.”
That doesn’t sound like a selfish guy to me. It sounds like a future hall of famer who knows it’s his responsibility to lift up the players around him. Whether it’s Jordan, Jeter or Marino, the great ones make their teammates better.
Just look at the impact Suh had on the Lions’ defense. OLB DeAndre Levy led the league in tackles last year with 121. Safety Glover Quin led all safeties with seven interceptions. And the Lions other safety James Ihedigbo was third on that list.
When asked about his ability to make others around him better, Suh deflected talks about his greatness once again,
“I think at the end of the day it can be a combination of everything. You don’t to just be out there by yourself and this is the ultimate team game so your teammates have to produce as well as yourself has to produce." he said. "The best way to do that is to work together as a unit, especially on the defensive line and offensive line – guys be able to protect each other, help each other, make plays and feed each other for plays. That is just the way it goes.”
Suh is a dominant player in the NFL. There is no doubt about that. But he understands that there’s a prize out there bigger than any one player on a team. I’m sure there will be times when Suh may get caught up in the moment and cost the team a penalty or two. But in this fan’s opinion it’s worth it. The impact he’s going to have on the younger players; the impact on the team; the impact on the fan base; and on the city is going to be totally worth the occasional “roughing the passer” penalty; especially if it’s on Mr. Brady. Hi haters! Bye haters!
This story was written by Carlos A. Hernandez. Follow him on Twitter: @LosDez
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