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.