By Mark Wilson
March 11, 2015

For the life of me I can’t figure out what Detroit Lions’ fans are actually whining about.

Ndamukong Suh officially became a member of the Miami Dolphins with his press conference in Davie on Wednesday.

He got a monster contract of six years, $114 million with about $60 million guaranteed and no Florida income tax.

Ok, the numbers are out of the way.

So long, Suh.

Now… here’s the thing.

What in the hell is all the hubbub about?

I never thought he would return to Detroit when given the option of leaving.

But all I hear is this dichotomy of Suh lovers/haters. And, make no mistake; it IS a love/hate relationship with the All-Pro defensive tackle from Portland, Oregon through Lincoln, Nebraska.

They can list all the times that Suh hurt the club with his dirty NFL antics. They’ll give you the dollar amount in fines from the league and tell you how Suh blew games over his five seasons.

They’ll tell you how distant he was from the club and how he never really got into the whole Motown thing but, whoa, the Suh-Man can hack out some punishment.

“He’s a great player but… I’m glad he’s gone. Good riddance.”


You’d swear every Lions’ fanatic was DATING the guy.

“She’s a great girl but… I’m so glad to be OUT of that relationship!”

Those aren’t my quotes. Those are quotes I’ve seen on various social media the past five days.

Well, not the one about the girl.

I threw that in there because it sounds like they’re talking about girlfriends or wives or the latest chick on the internet that dissed them on-line.

Female Lions’ peeps are just as polarizing.

In either case, in the words of Sean Connery, “this has caused quite a stink.”

It’s to the point where it is tough to respond.

“So, what do YOU think of Suh leaving,” I’ve been asked now a million times.


I take a breath and begin to give my opinion when I get stopped at a certain area.

That area has to do with his NEVER wanting to be a Lion.

That’s right kids; I don’t believe the dude EVER wanted to make Detroit home.

Late last season, Ndamukong said something to the effect that he orchestrated his second round selection by the Lions in 2010. A wild hair-brained comment that somehow HE positioned himself to be the Lions’ pick right after St. Louis chose QB Sam Bradford.


I laugh every time I see that.

In a draft which saw three of the top four players tabbed from the University of Oklahoma, Suh was taken out of Nebraska at number two.

He was not going to be a Ram and the Lions were not going to take anyone BUT Suh at the second slot.

So, it has confused me how or even why Suh would have had to orchestrate that move.

Where else was he going to go?

He wasn’t going to drop to number three.

The cat is a defensive tackle. He didn’t have John Elway star power to determine where he was going to be drafted.

It was Lions or bust.

Having said that, the minute he was chosen, he knew he’d have to put up with being a Lion until the time when he was able to make his own call.

That time is… NOW.

For the past year and a half we’ve been angling for this moment.

All we have heard is that the Lions were close and they would make him an offer to keep him in the fold.

We heard it from Lions team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew.

Owner William Clay Ford passed away so we couldn’t hear it from him. Bill, Jr. has kind of stayed out of it and his mother, now-owner Martha Firestone Ford, isn’t about to run her mouth after having been silent for the better part of 50 years.

I mean the woman has been behind the man since Ford took sole ownership of the franchise on January 10, 1964.

What’s she gonna do? Call a press conference?

Lewand and Mayhew. That’s it. That is the brain trust of the Detroit Lions.

Supposedly the Lions offered something not to far from what Miami came up with. There wasn’t going to be a “hometown discount” because THIS ISN’T his home town.

Not sure why this is so difficult for people to understand.

Suh is not from Michigan, he had never been here before and he wants to not be from here now.

Easy schmeezy Mr. Peasy.

Under terms of the NFL and the Players Association agreement, Suh can be an unrestricted free agent in his sixth season. Unless you slap a franchise tag on him, he is allowed to walk.

He followed the rules.

He owes Detroit… nothing.

He got paid, played hard, did his best and now he is going away.

Stop me when you see something silly or crazy.

Suh helped the Lions to a post-season in 2011 when they hadn’t gone to one since 1999. He then assisted in ANOTHER playoff trip in 2014; and he did it with two different head coaches.

He helped the Lions become one of the most feared defenses in football.

Hell, the last time THAT happened was in the 1950’s.

Suh didn’t say disparaging things about the city, he didn’t get in outrageous trouble and was never suspended for steroid use.

Again, stop me when I am going kooky here.

If the guy wants to leave; what’s the problem?

Oh… you wanted him to stay here forever because you’re afraid the mighty defense will take a step or two backwards.

Well, that’s different.

You’re being selfish.

Of course you want one of the best players in the NFL to remain in your town. It’s only natural.

This is when the Detroit debate comes in full force.

We simply don’t get the best free agents in ANY sport, other than hockey, because they simply don’t want to make Detroit their place of residence.

Sorry, but that’s the way it’s been and will be into the near future.

You don’t think all those documentaries and articles about how bad Detroit is with city blight and crime and bankruptcy and homelessness takes a toll?

Think again.

Seriously, if you didn’t grow up in the city or even Michigan, how many people you think REALLY want to move here?

Try no one.

No one moves here of their own accord. Usually it’s a JOB that brings people here.

Bottom line… Ndamukong Suh came to Detroit because of… his JOB.

Suh would not have crossed the Ohio/Michigan border for any other reason. He wasn’t going to come here when he was done at Nebraska if he didn’t have a JOB lined up here.

It just so happens that his JOB is playing defensive tackle in the National Football League.

A nice job indeed but one in which the employee is powerless to pick his venue straight out of college.

Sure, you can be an un-drafted free agent and sign anywhere. You also won’t make the millions they hand out for being drafted.

If Suh had graduated Nebraska with a degree in accounting, he could go find a job wherever he wants.

Unless the money was SO good in Detroit that he couldn’t turn it down, I’m sure that Detroit would have ranked somewhere around LAST on his list of places to go work.

But this is Suh, the football player.

In 2010, he had one place to go.


In 2015, he had 32 places to go.

HERE… was not going to be one of them.

Let’s clear up one thing about players signing with teams ONLY in warm weather climates.

If that was the case? The San Diego Chargers would have won NINE Super Bowls by now and the San Diego Padres would have won NINE World Series.

Maybe ten. Each.

Ever been to San Diego?

It has just about the greatest weather on the planet. Most days are sunny and 73 degrees. It happens so often we joke about the weather in the S.D; truly fantastic.

San Diego is gorgeous too. It is right on the Pacific Ocean, it has great golf, a great Gaslamp District with shopping, entertainment and residential.

There aren’t many cities in the WORLD like San Diego, California; the REAL Southern California.

So, how many championships do the Chargers and Padres have combined?


If weather was the only factor, there is no way those two franchises would still be sitting at zero titles.

Granted, those two franchises have been lazy over the years and figured they paid in sunshine or something so as to excuse themselves for not winning anything.

Only this winter have the Padres finally come with it in the free agent and trade markets (after 45 years of existence) and the Chargers never seem to bother.


No clue.

Baffles me why the two major San Diego teams have been so lax in attracting the best talent. Blame ownership there.

I used to think it had something to do with being the sorry stepchild of Los Angeles. I can see the Padres using that lame argument because of the Dodgers and Angels but the Chargers haven’t even had any competition from L.A. in two decades.

No Rams and no Raiders should have made the Chargers a prime target for free agency.

Alas, nada.

Now the Chargers are talking about MOVING to Los Angeles.

Don’t get me started on that.

Only point is, it isn’t JUST about the weather.

Miami is another great place to live.

I know. I lived there.

When I moved from Michigan to Miami to work at WTVJ (CBS Channel 4 at the time) I thought it was the greatest thing of all time.

Beautiful neighborhoods, palm trees, Atlantic Ocean, no lousy winter, hot people, hot golf (and I don’t play golf), hot Cuban food (love it) and all sorts of other amenities made me ask, “where you been all my life?”

I had been to South Florida before on vacation, all the way down to Key West in fact, but never lived there.

Once I could start sending out tapes for TV sports jobs, any place became possible.

Miami had an opening and I got the gig.

I moved to Miami… for my JOB.

Just like Suh.

Oh, and LeBron James too.

When I was there, South Beach was a dump. It hadn’t been renovated yet into the “Deco Drive” decadence it is today.

James wanted the lifestyle and now Suh wants it.

Yes, the lifestyle.

The waking up in February to another spectacular 75 or 80 degree day with no shoveling or treacherous driving or any of the other things snow/ice/sleet/horror can bring.

I remember the day when I grabbed my Miami Herald newspaper and saw the headline.


It specifically picked out Mid-Michigan as getting hammered with a “snow of the century” type storm.

I had just moved from Lansing.

Ha Ha.

By the way, I was reading the paper BY THE POOL with a drink in hand and a bead of sweat cascading down my forehead.

In February.

Ahhhh… the life.

Suh wants that too. He’ll love it. He’ll drink it in.

Before you ask why then would LeBron LEAVE the beach after “taking his talents” there in 2010, I can answer that in one word.


Five years ago, Savannah Brinson was James’ girlfriend. On New Year’s Eve 2011 she became his fiancée. In 2013, they got married. Three kids were already in place.

When her last name is Brinson, LeBron can make his own moves. When her last name became HIS, uh well… HE then goes where SHE wants.

She wanted to go home to Ohio with the children.

Welcome back to Cleveland, LeBron!

Right now there is no… Mrs. Suh.

Ndamukong can do what he likes and he now has the power to dictate it; unlike the NFL Draft of ’10, no matter what he says.

For the Dolphins? It’s brilliant.

They needed to make a splash in the worst way.

And yes, there was a pun intended on splash. Not just because mammals like Dolphins go “splash” but also because that was that silly reality TV show Suh was on at ABC called, “Splash”

Miami’s football splash came in the form of a high caliber free agent.

Somehow, the Dolphins have flown under the radar of football futility.

I told a guy that the Lions had been to the post-season MORE in the last 13 years than the Dolphins. He so didn’t believe me; he had to look it up right then and right there.

“Unbelievable,” he said.

Yeah, cuz you don’t hear much about how far the mighty mammals have fallen.

Please don’t call ‘em FISH.

When I got to Miami, the Dolphins ruled.

It was early 80’s and the two Super Bowls were still fresh enough and Don Shula had the team at a championship level once again.

Back then, Miami didn’t have the Heat or the Marlins or the Panthers. They had nothing professional other than the Dolphins. There was no competition.

The University of Miami football team was just about to embark on its first college title run but, outside of Orange Bowl night itself, it still fell second fiddle to the Dolphins.

Shula was the high priest of South Florida.

Who else could get a highway named for him WHILE he was still actively coaching?

Only Don Shula.

Shula was the second coach in Dolphins’ history.

George Wilson had left the Lions to take over the fledgling AFL expansion franchise in 1966. He was the most recent coach to lead the Lions to a championship in 1957.

The first four years were not good.

Wilson departed the Dolphins after a 15-39-and-2 record.

Shula was brought in from the Colts and stayed 25 years.

His first season of 1970, Shula led Miami to the playoffs and did that all but four times until 1985.

Four more seasons of no playoffs followed but Miami was right back in the upper echelon of the NFL the next decade even when Shula left in favor of Jimmy Johnson.

When Johnson left and Dave Wannstedt took over, the downfall of Dolphins football began.

The natives have never seen this type of futility in the half century Miami has had a pro football team.

From 1966 until 2000, the Dolphins had THREE head coaches. Since then they’ve had SEVEN.

Wannstedt, Jim Bates, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano, Todd Bowles and Joe Philbin have all presided over the worst football Miami has experienced.

Cameron was the worst of the worst.

One year before Rod Marinelli showed that 0-and-16 was possible in the NFL with the Lions, Cameron directed a Dolphins’ squad that was “overtime” away from the same 0-and-16.

Instead, Miami won that overtime game and finished 2007 at 1-and-15 leaving 0-and-16 ALL to the Lions in ’08.

The Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since 2000 and have been in only ONE post-season the past 13 years.

That doesn’t fly in SoFla.

Owner Stephen Ross knows it.

The Michigan graduate and donor, who many thought would lure Jim Harbaugh to Miami, decided to keep Philbin as coach despite no seasons over .500.

Six years have gone by since the Dolphins finished above .500.

It was also their lone playoff appearance since 2001.

Yep, the Lions have gone to the playoffs more than Miami in the past 13 years.

Plus, it’s been a LONG time since the Fins had a dominating defense. Go back to the early 80’s when Shula and defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger fielded the “Killer B’s.”

Doug Betters, Bob Baumhower, Charles Bowser, Kim Bokamper, Bob Brudzinski, Mark Brown, Jay Brophy and the two Blackwood brothers, Lyle and Glenn made up the “Killer B’s.”

All had last names that began with the letter “B.”

Of course, the leader of that defense was A.J. Duhe but the running joke at the practice field was that Duhe would change his name to, “Buhe.”

30 years since that group terrorized NFL offenses. Yikes.

Read ‘em and weep, Dade County.

Another problem with the “Fins” is the stadium. It’s barely IN Dade County. It feels more like Broward County right off the Florida Turnpike.

Not a desirable place considering the old Orange Bowl was right in the heart of Miami.

Seats have been a lot easier to attain in recent years.

Suh will put some fannies in the seats and be their cornerstone. Voila!

The Sun Life Stadium box office got a plethora of calls as soon as it was clear that Ross was going to sign Suh.

It is exactly the kind of “splash” the Dolphins needed to calm the natives.

They are getting extremely restless for a winner.

LeBron’s Heat won a pair of NBA crowns. The Marlins have won a pair of World Series titles. The Panthers have been to a Stanley Cup Final.

The Dolphins haven’t been to a Super Bowl since Dan Marino got ‘em there as a second year QB in 1984.

As we learned here, Suh can’t get you to a Super Bowl; no defensive tackle can.

He can however, begin to change a losing culture in Miami.

Suh will be able to put the same fear in opponents that he put them here with the Lions. He is worth as much about the fear as he is in actual sacks, tackles and other stats. Ndamukong gets a brand new challenge. It all adds up for him.

Philbin will have a player who WANTS to be there.

I just don’t think Jim Schwartz and Jim Caldwell were blessed with the same attitude.

Should be curious to see how Suh plays when he wants to be somewhere. In Miami, we get the chance to find out. He exercised his option to leave Detroit and he left.

He did what players do every day.

We just choose to not like it. Or, like it. Or… like it but not like it. Or, something like that.

At his introductory Miami presser, Suh thanked Lions’ fans calling them “exquisite.” Probably a word only HE would use.

Well… be exquisite Lions’ fans.

Embrace your new DT, Haloti Ngata from the Ravens. He said all the right things at HIS press conference in Allen Park. He looks forward to putting his own stamp on Teryl Austin’s defense. Ngata seems genuine and rarin’ to go.

Who knows? He may actually want to be HERE.