Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On Ndamukong Suh, the Detroit Lions and the concept of "we" vs. "me"

If the announcement "shocked the world" it should not have. The Lions would make Ndamukong Suh the highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL. They would top the 5-year, $55 million deal the Bengals gave Geno Atkins.
They have tabled their contract negotiations with Suh simply because the process isn't there.
The distraction reasoning given by the Lions' brass? Yeah, like it isn't still a factor.
It doesn't matter what the Lions offer Suh short of the ridiculous, it's clear he isn't going to sign it. It has always been the case.
The Lions kicked the can down the road by restructuring Suh's contract to free salary cap money to sign free agents such as Reggie Bush and Glover Quinn. It was a good plan except:
 A) After getting to 6-3 and appearing ready to make a playoff push in 2013, the Lions collapsed and missed the playoffs.
B) When it became time for the Lions to sign Suh to an extension this off season and be in really good shape for the future, Suh not only didn't sign, he didn't negotiate.
Suh is about attention, from the talk about being "a once-in-a-generation talent" from his past representative, and the marketing of him as a brand name. It's tied at 3-3 for Suh's reality TV show and Pro Bowl appearances.
Ndamukong Suh: About "me" not "we"
What is a bigger coup for Suh than unrestricted free agency? It'd be a marketing and financial bonanza for him. He could upgrade from "The Choice" and "Splash" to "The Bachelor" and "Dancing With the Stars."
Can you blame him? Well, it depends. It is turning his back on the Lions and subsequently their fans. It held back the team greatly in free agency this off season. It leaves the franchise holding the bag with nearly $10 million in "dead" salary cap money in the future, if Suh, as expected, leaves.
It shows the importance of this season for the Lions. They will have Suh, Stafford and Calvin Johnson in their prime likely for  the last time. They have plenty of good parts around them.
You have to admire Suh in a way. People talk about the NFL like its a "team" game, but ultimately it's a "me" game. There is enormous risk for players. We've heard a lot lately from past players about that, and how they feel duped.  It is the most brutal of all team sports by its very nature.
On the other hand, Suh is vastly overrated and overhyped. He is an excellent defensive tackle, arguably the best in the game since Atkins, who has been far more productive, was hurt. But he hasn't transcended the limitations of his position and been a truly impactful player since his rookie season.
The idea of him as a marketing icon and receiving QB money at this point is laughable - unless he plays this season like he did as a rookie.
The Lions desperately need that from Suh in '14. The NFL is the ultimate "live in the moment" league.
At this point, who cares about '15?
Especially for the Lions, it's all about now.

This is my 3-part series "Baseball Scouting, Past and Present: How it has changed, how it has remained the same:

Part 1 - http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20140723/the-story-of-lou-dannunzio-and-how-a-scout-shaped-detroit-tigers-history

Part 2 - http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20140724/even-greatly-enhanced-by-math-and-science-baseball-scouting-remains-an-art-form

Part 3 - http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20140725/process-of-baseball-talent-evaluation-changed-but-remains-about-the-decision


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