Suh Has Signed—and The Blue Fire Roars

>> 8.04.2010

Super Bowl XLIV Media Day Late last night, word finally broke on Twitter—sorry, hundreds at the same time, no idea who was first—that the Lions and Ndamukong Suh had agreed to the terms of his first Lions contract (see what I did there?).  During last Sunday’s Fireside Chat, I’d noted, with growing distaste, how quickly Lions fans were beginning to turn on Suh.  Never before had the Lions’ fanbase been so united in their desire for a given player to be the Lions’ first draft pick—and yet, a few days’ worth of not being in camp had people jumping on Twitter and cussing out Ndamukong, and his sister Ngum.

It all got way out of hand.  Neil over at Armchair Linebacker penned a thoughtful piece called “Settle Down,” which I thought did a a nice job of cogently, if profanely, outlining all the reasons why the reactionary attitude was totally out of line:

Then again, the most likely explanation is that Ndamukong Suh is a dude in his early twenties who is going to spend the next decade of his life (if he's lucky) getting the utter shit kicked out of him, being beaten and broken, his body ripped apart and ravaged so that by the time he's 40 he'll barely be able to walk and won't be able to read any of the street signs thanks to all of the concussions. He'll then spend the next thirty or so years of his life (again, if he's lucky) dealing with the hellacious trauma of his chosen career, with mounting medical bills and aches and pains that most of us can't even fathom. Be honest, if someone told you that you were going to be finished at 35 and then were going to spend the rest of your life taking a half hour getting out of bed in the morning because the pain was just too damn much and trying to remember your kids' names and wondering if you would need a wheelchair before your fiftieth birthday, you'd probably press for as much money as you could too. And that's all assuming you'd even be good enough to play for a decade and not for three or four years. These dudes need to get paid and need to get paid quickly.

This is absolutely right: most quality players only get to sign two—or if they’re lucky, a few—of these big, guarantee-laden contracts.  Many never even get past one.  I wonder what Charles Rogers would do now to pocket one more million of that upfront money?

A big Lions fan on Twitter, @AKDW90, asked me “What difference would it be if he gets $40M or $50M?” and I answered “About ten million dollars.”  Frankly, ten million dollars is a lot of dollars, no matter how many dollars you already have.  Moreover, consider this: Ndamukong worked like crazy for five years at Nebraska, through two coaches, and trained like a madman to thoroughly dominate the NFL combine.  Why did he do that?  To be the best he could be—and to get drafted as highly as possible.  He earned his #2 overall draft slot through years and years of his own hard work; why should he throw any of that away and sign for less than he can get?  So he can make a handful of August practices?

Just as I was mentally composing my own "Settle Down" piece, Neil wrote a sequel.  It’s a little more firm in its critique.  As I like to keep it family here on this blog, there’s very little of it I can quote to you—yet, this one sentence might be the most salient:

Look, you know things have gotten out of hand when I am the one trying to be the voice of reason and preaching civility.

Commenter TimT—who I have the utmost respect for—objected to all of this Gonzo fan-on-fan aggression, but I found it cathartic and satisfying.  There’s no room around the the blue bonfire for people who will get on Twitter and viciously flame Ndamukong Suh’s little sister because the big man was four days slow on signing his contract.  Please, people, perspective.  This guy’s going to be the anchor of the Lions’ defense for years to come; is this what you want him to think of Lions fans?

Speaking of the blue bonfire, if there was an antidote to the nastiness of the Lions fans on Twitter, it was the awesomeness of the fans of the rest of the NFL on Twitter.  Raider homer @rnstrong immediately fired off a Tweet for the ages:

SUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I instantly became a Lions fan the moment they drafted him

You see?  It’s already beginning, people.  Ndamukong Suh is going to be everything I thought Aaron Curry would be: a once-in-a-generation combination of size, speed, ability, and intelligence.  A humble, honest, hardworking young man blessed with a philanthropic spirit.  The savior of the worst defense the NFL has ever seen, and avatar of renaissance for both the Lions, and the City of Detroit.  Today, as Ndamukong Suh practices with his teammates for the first time, the blue bonfire burns as brightly as it has in years.  As the Honolulu Blue flames reach for the August sky, people from all over are rushing to to see the source.  Join us.

We’ve got plenty of cider on ice.


12 comments:

NorthLeft12,  August 4, 2010 at 1:02 PM  

Ty, Very good piece of writing. I have been really surprised at the ugliness of many Lions fans at the Pride Of Detroit, and on the radio. Not only ugly, but vicious, stupid, and ignorant too. Reminds me of the initial response by a lot of Lions fans to Matt Stafford and his selection at #1 in 2009.

Hopefully, this ignorance and inferiority will be cured by a successful and professional organization led by Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz.

Mike August 4, 2010 at 1:13 PM  

Agree 100%. I saw so much "Suh hired his agent, not the other way around!" that I think people forget that sometimes the tail wags the dog. You have an experienced agent who has done this for years working his magic with a green rook, saying "this is just part of the game" and making him believe it, and that all started the moment Parker began courting the kid.

Of course Suh could've put his foot down and signed something against Parker's wishes, but we're not just talking about Suh's contract here, we're also talking about Parker's reputation. If Suh signed before Bradford/McCoy and got a bad shake, Parker loses some rep in the eyes of future clients. If Suh gets barely more than the #3 pick, the same thing happens. Parker had a vested interest in getting Suh as much as possible.

And I believe Suh had a hand in settling the dispute. I read in one of the earliest reports saying that Suh had done more than any other rookie in those final negotiations, and I believe he had enough of the holdout. I've lost no respect for the kid, nor do I believe he is any less honest for going back on his word. This IS a business, and Suh is just starting to understand that.

c August 4, 2010 at 2:50 PM  

Here's my problem with your analysis:

Suh SAID HE WOULD BE IN CAMP ON TIME. He said he wouldn't hold out and didn't want any "drama". Then, he held out and caused tons of drama.

In other words, he lied.

I agree with your analysis, and don't begrudge him his money at all. In fact, if he had come out and said "y'know, football is hard on the body and I've only got a few years to make a living, so I'm going to try and get as much money as I can", I would have respected him MORE for being honest.

But that's not what he did. He SAID 'no holdout, no drama', but he DID holdout, cause drama.

So, that's what upsets me.

I'll always root for the Lions, and I hope he's a big part of their future. But I don't believe him or trust him or 'respect' him: he told a flat out lie.

Mike August 4, 2010 at 3:17 PM  

Again, I see it as a case of an experienced agent leading a wide-eyed rookie somewhere he didn't want to go. I'm sure some of the guys Parker has represented felt the same as Suh, albeit not as publicly, and knows how to talk them into waiting a few days. Heck, holding out a few days fighting for a better contract is one big advertisement for Parker to next year's draft class.

"Choose me, Eugene Parker. I'll go the extra mile to get you all that you deserve!"

I honestly think people are downplaying Parker's skill at his job and ignoring the emotional high that Suh has been riding since hearing people talk about him being the best in the draft. Of course he's going to say he doesn't want to hold out. He's excited about starting a new job and has no clue how business runs in the NFL. Parker convincing him that this is the way business goes in the NFL and that holdouts are common was, I'd imagine, like shooting fish in a barrel. Sometimes the tail really does wag the dog, and Parker is known for his ability to do just that.

Maybe it was Suh's mistake for hiring him in the first place, but in the end, he DID do everything he could to end the holdout and agree to terms.

And as for telling a lie, I'll wager his contract versus your breakfast this morning that when he made that comment that he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he would be signed and in camp without a holdout. Sure, he didn't stay true to his word, but that boiled down to more than just HIS wishes. Sh!t happens, and when it does all you can do is nod your head and move on.

Ty August 4, 2010 at 3:19 PM  

NorthLeft12--

First, thanks! I'm always trying to get better.

Second . . . winning cures a lot of ills, and I know that Lions fans are going to explode once the Ws start piling up.

Peace
Ty

Neil August 4, 2010 at 3:28 PM  

Five days. That was it. If you wanna get all worked up over five days and brand the man a liar because of it, well . . . I can't stop you. But just think about it. Five days.

Also, those articles you linked to, Ty, are just filled with senseless vulgarity. Whoever wrote them should be beaten about the head and publicly castrated. I hear he is a handsome fellow, though . . .

Anonymous,  August 4, 2010 at 4:53 PM  

I was never bothered that Suh was a few days late in getting his contract signed. What bothered me was that he came out beforehand and made statments that he's not the guy to cause drama and wants to get into camp on time, then he held out. Players should know that contracts are often out of their control and that they shouldn't make statements regarding their progress.

As active as Lewand said he was in the negotiations I'm sure he had little to do with the end contract. It's agents, lawyers and business that drive these things based on the idea of what a player can be. Suh is a very marketable player, he's selling more jerseys than Bradford, he's got multiple commercials on national TV, and was almost the consensus #1 tallent in the draft. It's not a rediculous argument to say that he should get #1 money.

I'm sure Suh did want to be out on the field and the contract changes over the last few days may not have even mattered to him, but I can guarantee Eugene Parker cared about the money. In fact that's all agents care about is money. Bigger contract means a bigger cut for the agency, which means future players want your services, which means more cuts. Parker saw a highly marketable player unlike any in recent history and he was damn-sure going to get his cut of the Suh market and the related hype for his agency going forward.

Christopher August 4, 2010 at 6:11 PM  

What I understand Suh said was

"I'm not a guy that likes to be a part of drama. I don't even like being in the limelight, so I definitely don't want to hold out."

Please read that again, he said "I definitely don't WANT to hold out." He did not want to hold out, but like he said in his apology:

"As we all know, it's a business and my agents did a great job of taking care of that for me because that's what I hired them for. They did everything I asked and took care of it the way I wanted it taken care of. That's beyond the point now. I'm in camp now and I'm excited to be here."

I expect that when he made the hold out statement he did not fully understand the business of Pro Football.

Mike August 4, 2010 at 11:29 PM  

Glad to see support for the kid here. :)

Just hope he reads stuff like this to see a real look at his fans instead of just basing it on Twitter. I would hate for his view of Lion fan-dom to be tarnished by some of the horrible things that were said.

Mike August 4, 2010 at 11:32 PM  

Also Ty (and I apologize for the spam) I haven't commented here before, but I really enjoy reading this blog. It's good to read from a fan who still bleeds Honolulu Blue and Silver without all the cynicism that some fans have gained over the years. Keep up the awesome work.

TimT August 5, 2010 at 8:03 PM  

Ty, at the core of my patience for all of the Suh-bashing amongst the fans that was going on earlier this week was BAD REPORTING!

How can I judge my fellow fan as irrational once they've been told that Suh demanded 56 million by a rogue, yet trusted, report. Chris Mortenson's tweet of Suh's demand grew into multiple reports by multiple outlets TO THE POINT SOME STILL CLING TO THE NOTION THAT IT WAS TRUE.

I'll fight and argue some of the smallest Lions/football details until I'm the only one still arguing, but... In this case, the explosion and stampede caused by the MortReport caused even the most level-headed of fans to go over the edge. I tried to simmer a few people down, but the damage was done and nothing was going to calm things down.

There are a small percentage of individuals that will still say that Suh's promise should have seen action the same way that Trent Williams did. You cannot argue with them either. Williams wanted to be in camp, he felt his agent (Parker) would be a detriment, he fired him and ended up as the 1st in the top-5 to be signed. This group of people, focused on principles and honoring your word, likely were not sending hate-tweets. It's the hundreds of anxious fans reacting to a ridiculous rumor disguised as truth that were most-likely the ones offending ngum and Damo.

Matt,  August 10, 2010 at 1:01 PM  

Have to chime in about the "he's a liar" comments. First of all, I'm going to assume Christopher's quote is accurate. I certainly don't remember Suh hosting a George Bush, Sr.-esque press conference in which he said "Read my lips. I. . .will. . .not. . .hold. . .out. . .of. . .training. . .camp." People act like he made a blood oath personally with each and every Lions fan when really all he did was state his "preference" or "ideal situation." Did it come to pass? Obviously not. But if you say you'll be to work at 10:00 am, then hit a patch of unexpected road construction, does it make you a "liar" when you walk in the door at 10:10? Sure, you probably should have left the house earlier, but should people "distrust" you from then on out or brand you a "liar" for it. I don't think so.

And, of course, all of this will be immediately forgotten as soon as Suh puts his first quarterback or running back on his ass.

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