By now, you’ve probably seen Ndamukong Suh’s new Chrysler TV commercial, wherein he drives a gleaming new Chrysler 300 through his hometown of Portland, Oregon. At the end, as a smiling Ndamukong hugs his thrilled-to-see-him mother, the voiceover says “Show where you’re going, without forgetting where you’re from.”
It's fitting for Suh; this very commercial begins his transition from “football player” to “media icon.” Note that they don’t say his name, or his team, or show him in uniform, or do anything but hint to non-fans in case you’re wondering this guy’s a football player—you’re expected to know who he is and what he looks like.
Further, the commercial’s fitting for Chrysler itself. Resurrected from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, purchased by FIAT, and now profitable for the first time since 2006, Chrysler’s building better cars that simultaneously respect the heritage of the Motor City, and compete with the state of the art. They’re calling it “earned luxury,” pride taken in a job well done.
“Show where you’re going, without forgetting where you’re from.” It’s an excellent tagline for the Lions’ upcoming season, too: it’s not just the slappies and homers and “optimists” and “Joey Blueskies” believers [like me] who think the Lions are going to be contenders this year. Rick Gosselin even said the Lions will be the team chasing the Packers in the NFC North this year—and the Dallas Morning News scribe is one of the world’s best NFL predictors. The challenge for the Lions will be believing that they can—and should—expect victory every time they step on the field, while remembering they’re not far removed from the most humbling season in NFL history.
Ndamukong Suh has always been a man of two personalities, though. The classy, humble, intelligent, soft-spoken young man—who, indeed, didn’t speak a word in this commercial—is represented quite well by the new 300. But there’s another side of Suh: the vicious, relentless, quarterback-decapitating, 3200-pounds-of-force-hitting-with monster who prowls the middle of Ford Field in a #90 Lions jersey. That guy will be entering the Gumball 3000 this year.
For those unfamiliar, the Gumball is a famous (some might say notorious) gathering of elite gearheads, racers, musicians, celebrities, athletes, and (literal) Jackasses in some of the world’s most rare, powerful, and extravagant cars. They tear around the world’s highways looking good, having fun, and theoretically not racing. That doesn’t stop some of these thrill-seekers from getting ticketed for outrageous speeding, their cars impounded and their licenses stripped, or, once, causing a fatal accident.
Though the organizers learned from that incident—and even “Mr. Hyde” Ndamukong Suh won’t be that reckless—I hear he’ll likely be at the wheel of a Dodge Challenger SRT-8, with a snarling, 470-horsepower 392 Hemi under the hood:
The party starts on May 25th, and rubber meets the road May 26th—so be prepared for some awesome pics and video of Suh emerging thereabouts. Say a little prayer that everything’s as safe as it is awesome, and enjoy that there’s a Detroit Lion—and a Big 3 car—at the heart of one of the hottest events for cool people in cool cars.