After the magnificent season Ndamukong Suh had, it’s not surprising that he was just named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year. For those who thought Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford deserved the award, relax: he’ll almost certainly win the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year—and the AP’s OROY and DROY have historically been the most coveted awards. Besides, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz thinks Suh deserved it, too:
I'm a Bradford honk, but I have to be objective about this, and Suh was a better player on the field than Bradford this season.
That’s what this is really about, too: the players on the field. These awards don’t retroactively certify or nullify what our eyes told us all season long. This award doesn’t make Suh any more or any less than what he is: a once-in-five-years player at his position; a ridiculous blend of size, strength, speed, maturity, toughness, and intelligence. Whether he’s a better defensive tackle than Sam Bradford is a quarterback is not only impossible to truly judge, it’s also irrelevant.
In that sense, this award may not truly for him, even though he earned it. In every interview, Ndamukong Suh makes it plain that he’s holding himself to his own standards—and if he even approaches them, awards like this will cling to him like matter to a Higgs boson. Suh likely envisions a not-too-distant future where he’s using these things as paperweights and furniture sliders. Of course, I’m sure Suh is greatly pleased by winning this award—and the Sporting News RoY, and likely the AP DRoY, and any/all applicable rookie trophies—but it likely means more to us fans.
0-16 teams don’t have the NFL Rookie of the Year anchoring their defensive line. 2-14 teams’ players aren’t reflected in gleaming silver trophies during Super Bowl week. Teams with no present, no future, and no hope don’t have players like Suh on their roster. Think about it: this means that Ndamukong Suh is the best rookie in the NFL. When was the last time anything about the Lions was the best in the NFL? Not just “above average,” or “top ten,” or “possibly one of the better . . .,” the BEST.
All offseason long, we’ll be able to point to Ndamukong Suh and say, “our best is better than your best,” and be right. We’ll be able to say we have the best nucleus of young talent in the NFL. We’ll be able to point to what Suh and the Lions achieved on the field in 2010, and know that it’s only getting better from here.