By Mark Wilson
February 18, 2015

Few athletes in Detroit sports history have been as polarizing as Ndamukong Suh.

Most long-suffering Lions’ fans love the guy and others are, at best, indifferent.

No one here really hates the dude.

But, seriously folks, enough already. Enough of Suh. It’s time for him to move on.

See ya later, alligator.

For the past calendar year, it has been about the money with Suh. There is no talent issue. He is extremely talented at the defensive tackle position. Ndamukong is one of the best, if not the best, at his spot in the NFL.

The money, though. Whew! It is some serious football jingle.

Suh’s “franchise tag” number sits at nearly $27-million. His “dead money” salary cap number resides in the neighborhood of $10-million.

Judging by his Metro Detroit home, Suh’s “neighborhood” is one most of us aren’t even allowed to drive into.

I mean, c’mon. At days’ end he is still just a DEFENSIVE TACKLE.

If Suh played quarterback? We’d have a different topic on our hands.

But a DT?

The cash involved here is a neighborhood Martin Mayhew needs to ignore.

The Lions GM has done better in recent years putting a team together that looks legit. He has a coach in Jim Caldwell that actually knows what he’s doing.

I’ve said it before and I say it again. Caldwell is the best head coach hire they’ve made since the late Don McCafferty in 1973.

Sorry Mooch.

With high priced meat in Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, the idea of paying a DT the kind of money that Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera make with the Tigers seems north of insane.

It’s bad enough that the JV and Miggy contracts ARE insane.

At least those two guys have been a part of FOUR division titles and TWO trips to the World Series.

The Lions are still looking to win a division for the first time since 1993 and have NEVER been to a Super Bowl.

News flash; can NOT win a division or NOT go to a Super Bowl without you, Suh.

Sure, the Lions have gone to a pair of playoffs as wildcards with Ndamukong doing his thing but they have two losses to show for it. Even two WINS may have changed the idea of Suh remaining.

It didn’t happen however.

Making the Pro Bowl is nice since so few Lions did that prior to Johnson and Suh. But, even the Pro Bowl has lost tremendous luster. It’s not much of a gauge anymore.

This isn’t even about his talent level.

I’m not so sure the guy even likes football.

He plays the game to make a living; a damn good living. To me it seems like a means to an end for a post-NFL acting or media career.

Suh’s appearances on the FOX dating show and that silly “Splash” diving program illustrate how desperately number 90 wants to be in the public eye.

Hell, he did “Splash” with the likes of Louie Anderson and Nicole Eggert.

Don’t get me wrong. Suh isn’t the first athlete to want the attention. No one does more off-field TV crap than Peyton Manning.

If I see one more Manning “Papa John’s Pizza” commercial I think I’m going to throw up in mouth a little.

And… I heard a kid humming the “Nationwide is on your side” song that Manning hums in those over-played spots.

Athletes do endorsements. Athletes do television. I get it. I’m good.

You don’t see a ton of DEFENSIVE TACKLES doing those kinds of things so I give it up to young Mr. Suh.

Maybe he’s just channeling his inner Alex Karras.

Karras, who died in 2012, is the former Lions’ DT who got into movies and TV sitcoms. In a way, Karras and Suh are similar.

I just get the feel Suh is not that into the football thing.

He grew up in Portland, Oregon.

It doesn’t seem like he really had a favorite team as a child since his hometown doesn’t have a team.

Seattle is the closest which is why the Seahawks are rumored to be a place he’d choose to be. Suh has always gone home where he can’t find a way to keep his foot off the gas.

Maybe Fred Armisen should find Suh a role in “Portlandia.”

New York is another hot spot.

Since Los Angeles can’t find a way to convince the nation’s second largest populous that bringing pro football back would be a good thing, NYC is where it’s at in terms of attention.

The New York Jets seem like a natch for Suh’s services.

For a while, they’d love his antics.

Stomping on guys, getting fined, being the “Beast of the East” would all be cool with a Jets’ fan base dying for success as much as the Lions faithful.

The Jets appearance in Super Bowl III has long worn out the path of acceptability.

Just ask Rex Ryan.

Sexy Rexy is coaching in Buffalo now because he couldn’t get it done in the Meadowlands.

Suh would give Jets’ fanatics hope for better days.

There doesn’t seem to be a third option.

The Jets or Seahawks. Those are the two places the former Nebraska All-American could land without much surprise.

Staying in Motown makes no more sense.

Ndamukong Suh is the classic change of scenery guy.

After being the second player chosen in the 2010 NFL Draft, Suh has now completed five years in Honolulu Blue and Silver.

FIVE YEARS already?

Where did THAT time go?

He’s been an All-Pro four times and the only time he didn’t make the first team, 2012, he made the second team.

Suh has played all but two games and he has 36 career sacks; ten of those his rookie season.

There is no doubt he remains one of the most feared defensive players in the game.

Big deal.

I used to think it was spectacular what he offered. I was his biggest defender. I thought anyone was nuts who wanted Suh to enter his prime somewhere else.

No more.

The money is simply too much.

There are still needs on this team that must be met. Mayhew has a lot of work to do this off season especially with big decisions coming on Rob Sims and Reggie Bush.

Serious coin will need to be spent on pieces parts to keep this Lions squad at a playoff caliber.

Tying up the bulk of funds on Suh is ridiculous.

For what? More of the same?

In the history of the National Football League, how many DEFENSIVE TACKLES do you know that can be singled out as a reason why that team won it all?

Maybe Warren Sapp?

I think we have hyped the position too much since Suh got here. We want to believe that DT’s are more important than they really are.

Yes, I know… (blah, blah) games and championships are won in the trenches and on defense.

But, it’s not like Suh is the end-all, be-all on the defensive line. Others can do it too, I promise you.

Nick Fairley needs to get his act together because he can be every bit as good as his teammate.

Very good DT’s are available in this year’s draft.

Some excellent tackles will arise once NFL squads start making their cuts for similar financial reasons.

We can live without Suh, people!

Plus, what is all this nonsense about Ndamukong jerking the Lions front office around when it comes to signing a long term contract?

Again, for more than a year, this has droned on.

Mayhew and team president Tom Lewand have stated that, “A deal for Suh was close.”


Close deals get inked.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard a Suh signing was “imminent,” I might have enough nickels to drive through his neighborhood.

Teryl Austin, the Lions’ terrific defensive coordinator, has gotten into the act.

“I’m planning on him being back,” Austin said on the Lions website.

Austin HIMSELF almost didn’t come back.

Interviewing for jobs this winter, Austin came close to a couple. But, if I had a nickel for every job that T.A. was about to get… I’d….

Oh wait; I just did that with Suh.

Austin also said that Suh defecting in free agency, “hadn’t even crossed my mind.”

Ok, now you’re just being funny.

At NO TIME it hadn’t crossed your mind?

What do you talk about in off-season meetings? The weather? The Pistons? Taylor Swift?

Sure it crossed his mind.

Everyone in the Lions front office does the egg-shell dance when it comes to number 90.

Ndamukong is a sensitive and emotional guy. He wears it on his sleeve sometimes.

I liked when he was pissed about the playoff loss in Dallas. He genuinely looked like he cared when the refs took one away and gave it to the Cowboys.

If he was acting?

Then he needs to get to Hollywood faster than I thought.

Shoot, he can’t. No team there.

Suh may not be the most passionate football player I’ve ever seen but he surely is no dummy.

He’s only 28 years old and in theory, just entering the REAL money years of his career.

It looks like no one stays in better shape than Suh and he wants to make money to support the rest of his lifestyle. Those cars he loves so much don’t grow on trees.

He’ll play football until they rip the jersey off him.

Suh just doesn’t need to play it… HERE.

I did an informal poll.

That means, I talked to a few hearty football peeps and just threw Suh’s name out to get a reaction.

“I don’t care anymore, he can go,” said one.

“We can’t afford to lose that dude,” said another.

“Too much money, buh-bye,” said a third.

“I don’t want him playing somewhere else!” yelled a fourth.

It was basically a 50/50 split.

Everyone I asked acknowledged he was the best at his position in the game and probably the best DT the Lions have ever had.

Yet, HALF didn’t mind if he checked out.

Talk about polarizing!

Suh is also an enigma.

Happy and talkative one day, nearly reclusive the next.

He’s more like Gloria Swanson than Travis Swanson.

I found that funny. YOU may need to look up Gloria Swanson or her alter ego Norma Desmond. (See: Sunset Boulevard)

Maybe Greta Garbo would have been a better example but no one on the Lions has Garbo for a last name like Travis has with Swanson.

The thought remains the same.

You never know which Suh you’re going to get.

Mostly, he is engaging without saying a whole lot. He doesn’t reveal much about his inner psyche and being as quiet as he is, can be confusing.

Suh plays with such a reckless abandon and such intensity, you’d think he’d blurt out more stuff.


He’s pretty calculated when it comes to comments.

It’s to the point where I would dig hearing him tell the truth about where his future lies.

Suh knows.

He knows all too well. He just isn’t telling anyone in the media or anyone who he thinks doesn’t matter.


Why tip his hand?

He gets nothing out of revealing what he believes or wants.

I thought it was a hoot last week when a gaggle of media checked on Suh’s home. They wanted to see if a “for sale” sign had been placed on the front lawn or something.

They combed the internet to see if it had a “Zillow” listing or was placed on “Realtor .com”

Uh, yeah. Ok.

Jimmy Sexton is Suh’s agent and Ndamukong refers all questions about $$$ and contracts to Sexton.

Sexton ain’t new. He knows how this thing is done. He’s pretty good at it.

The last thing Sexton is doing is sitting around on his thumbs waiting for the Lions to make a move.

Ditto Mayhew.

Since Matt Millen left, Mayhew has gotten savvier over the past half decade. In many ways, hard to believe I am saying this but, Mayhew has become a decent general manager.

Martha Firestone Ford should feel good about placing the franchise in his hands.

Mayhew will have some sort of “Plan B” when or if Suh high tails it out of the Motor City.

Personally, I’ll be surprised if Suh stays.

Not shocked, but surprised.

He’s done all he can here save for winning a playoff game.

There are new fish to fry and new bodies of water that those fish swim in.

Suh wants to be a new fish somewhere else.

If he REALLY wanted to be here, I believe he’d be here. He would have slapped his Hancock on a new deal by now. His lack of urgency proves his reluctance to make Detroit his permanent football home.

Or, as permanent as anything can be in the crazy, zany NFL.

We somehow survive these nasty Michigan winters; we can survive without a DEFENSIVE TACKLE.

With all due respect to the late Alex Karras and his hilarious role in the movie, “Blazing Saddles,” Suh needs to climb right back on the horse he rode in on.

Set off into the sunset, role credits. The end. Fade out.

That should be Hollywood enough for all of us.