Terrell Suggs is reinventing himself into one tough player

  • Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is introduced before the Ravens played the Steelers on Sunday.
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is introduced before the Ravens… (Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE,…)
December 05, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

Let me start by saying I'm through calling Terrell Suggs crazy.

I wrote back in October — this was right before the Ravens played the Houston Texans — that he was crazy to try and come back so soon from a torn Achilles tendon.

And I wrote the Ravens were nuts if they let him do it, too.

But Suggs shut me up, shut up all the doubters in the media, and we were coming out of the woodwork back then. It was one big Greek chorus of gloom and doom, all right.

Then the big outside linebacker took the field that Sunday against the Texans and gave his team a huge emotional lift. He played hard and loose and with a singular joy, and there were times he was the best player on the field, even with the Ravens getting their butts kicked, 43-13.

So I'm not going to knock Suggs for wanting to play Sunday against the Washington Redskins with a torn biceps.

And we'll see if he can actually pull it off, if he can play Superman again and come back from a second serious injury so soon after the first one.

But if he doesn't play against the 'Skins, I have no doubt he'll play in one of the big home games coming up, against Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Dec. 16 or against Eli Manning and the Giants a week after that.

If there's any chance he can help the Ravens, if the docs say he can play without leaving the muscle with all the consistency of linguini, he'll play. Because in the NFL world of tough guys who live with pain every working day, Sizzle has proven himself to be as tough as they come.

"You all pretty much know . . . that the creed is: 'If you can breathe, you can play,'" he said Wednesday at the Castle. "We just have to check it out and see how it holds up throughout the week. I'll definitely be a game-time decision on Sunday."

What a story this has become around the league: guy tears his Achilles, shreds his biceps a few months later and still won't shut it down!

It reminds me of that scene in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," where the Black Knight gets his arms and legs hacked off in a duel with King Arthur and refuses to quit, calls the King a coward and a pansy and tells him to come back and fight.

And don't think the rest of the Ravens aren't inspired by the guts and dedication Sizzle is showing by trying to come back from this latest injury.

If you think about it, it marks another huge step in the continuing make-over of Suggs' image.

Just a few years ago, he had a reputation as a player who wasn't exactly a fanatic about keeping in shape. And that's being charitable.

After signing a big contract, he famously showed up at training camp in 2009 overweight and lethargic. Surprising absolutely no one, he then proceeded to have a dreadful season, finishing with just 4.5 sacks and taking heat from the media, fans, and even his teammates.

Stung by all the criticism, Suggs became a nutrition nag and workout freak like his idol, Ray Lewis.

All of a sudden, he was telling us that he'd sworn off junk food and sweets and basically anything that tasted good. He'd see you with a brownie in the hallway and act like he caught you with a bong. And like No. 52, he was now doing killer offseason training drills that included running up hills with a 75-pound tire tied to his waist.

Whatever he did, it worked. He went to two straight Pro Bowls and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season.

Now, three years later, the Ravens marvel at his focus and determination. And they draw strength from the way he came back from the Achilles tear, and the way he talks about playing with this biceps tear.

Suggs said the hardest thing in the world for him as he rehabbed the Achilles was not being able to help his Ravens "brothers" on game days. And with this team 9-3 and focused on a Super Bowl berth, he's said he has no intention of not being at the Big Dance with them.

That's why you don't call Terrell Suggs crazy when he says he wants to play Sunday.

No, he hasn't played great lately. He's the Ravens' all-time sacks leader with 84.5, but he's only had two sacks in the six games since returning from the Achilles' injury.

Still, he'll give this team a huge emotional lift if he can go against the 'Skins and play at anywhere near the level he's shown in the past.

The Ravens sure don't think he's crazy, either.



Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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