What if I told you appreciating the (impending) signing of Ndamukong Suh by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was not a sign of not appreciating the nine years Gerald McCoy spent with the same franchise?
How about if I told you a person could like both moves? Or even dislike both moves, yet have their disdain for both stem from unconnected reasons?
At some point during the 2010 NFL Draft a comment about Suh and McCoy being connected for the duration of their careers was made. Perhaps multiple comments about the topic. And they were correct. However, as much as they were polar opposites as football players, they are just as polarizing as Buccaneers; one former and one soon to be (or newly signed, depending on when you read this.)
However, this does not mean opinions of these two players have to be forever tied and opposing to each other. A point apparently lost on some.
Throughout the saga which has been the release of McCoy, there have been two factions. One fighting for the tenure of the Batman Buccaneer, and one fighting for the reality of age and the science behind performance balancing with paychecks.
Neither is completely right, because neither is inside the situation and those inside the situation aren’t taking (public) sides. In the end, those in favor of separating McCoy and Tampa Bay claim a small victory for the moment.
But the war is not over. From the ashes of this debate rose another. And the two factions raised new flags. One side vying for the further football canonization of Gerald McCoy through tribute while villainizing Suh the west coast invader, and the other crowning Ndamukong Suh as the veteran Prince of aggression riding in to rid the Florida gulf coast football franchise of smiles and apologetic quarterback pressures.
Again, neither is completely right. Specifically, this isn’t a Suh versus McCoy situation. Suh didn’t release McCoy. The Buccaneers didn’t release McCoy specifically to sign Suh (as far as we know) and there is no evidence to indicate they did.
Simply, the team and McCoy no longer fit and the team happened to find his replacement in Suh. This is really all it boils down to. There’s no villain to the story other than father time and nearly a decade of losing for the time McCoy and the Bucs spent together.
But here we are.
Recently, an ESPN report commented Suh was a contradiction to Bucs ‘culture’ tying him to previous failed signings like DeSean Jackson and Chris Baker. Meanwhile, the same report grazes over McCoy’s shortcomings while immediately tying those flaws to his well-documented charity work providing an interestingly descriptive account of Suh as a player and teammate while leaving little detail about McCoy; the player covered by Jenna Laine for the duration of her time with ESPN up to this point.
A link to a 2012 player votes naming Suh the ‘dirtiest player’ in the league are provided. But the link to the 2012 NFL Top-100 naming Suh the 38th best player in the league as voted by players in the league, is absent. McCoy didn’t make that list.
In fact, McCoy didn’t make any NFL Top-100 lists until 2013 when he landed at 93. Suh was making his third appearance on the list that same year, and was ranked 40th.
Speaking of charitable contributions. A 2011 article titled, “Ndamukong Suh May Be Dirty, But He’s Also The Most Charitable Athlete In The Country”, stated,
“According to The Giving Back Fund, no athlete in the United States gave a bigger charitable donation in 2010 than Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions.”
In 2016, Bleacher Report published a column titled, “10 Current Athletes Who Are Ridiculously Charitable”. Russell Wilson, Lebron James, John Cena, and Ndamukong Suh are all named.
“Other than throwing large sums of cash at programs....the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation has worked to help provide children with school supplies, offered scholarships and committed to attendance programs.”
These things are not mentioned. Instead, the lone piece of evidence used in the reporting is a 2012 poll. From the year following Suh’s two-game suspension after stepping on the arm of then Green Bay Packers and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Evan Smith.
Since serving his two-game suspension, Suh has missed as many games in the NFL as I have played in. None.
Now, I want to be clear here. Jenna Laine is a well connected reporter who is well respected and I have no direct issue with her as a reporter and certainly not as a person. While her recent work is the focus of this, she is not the lone example. It’s everywhere.
My point is this, Ndamukong Suh has made some mistakes. Who hasn’t. He hasn’t been suspended since 2011 and has less money spent on fines than Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots and a slew of other NFL players.
McCoy not being on the NFL Top-100 until 2013 is not a reason why McCoy should not be in Tampa Bay. Similarly though, Suh being suspended in 2011 is not a reason he should not be either.
I can not find a single report saying Suh was a problem on or off the field with the Miami Dolphins or with the Los Angeles Rams. Every report I find says he was moved from Miami for monetary reasons, and Rams articles about his not returning are largely focused on age and minimal impact during the 2018 regular season. No, I haven’t read everything, but I read a lot.
Every negative comment or article about Suh is tying back to things that happened in 2011, 2012 or near the same timeframe. If we’re to use these dates as a gauge of who to or not to add to 2019 NFL teams, then I can’t wait for Ray Rice (2011 NFL All-Pro and 2012-13 AFC Pro Bowl running back) to sign with someone.
Gerald McCoy did a lot of great things for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was often times the lone bright spot in some dismal days for Bucs fans. Nobody should take this away from him.
He did a lot of work in and around the community and has a smile that you can’t help but smile back at. His love of comic book characters and his willingness to keep a loose attitude even in storms could frustrate some, but is one of the reasons he was an ambassador of the team. Nobody should undersell or minimize those characteristics.
Ndamukong Suh made a lot of mistakes early in his career and derailed his time with the franchise that drafted him. Nobody will ever forget it.
He also took the opportunity to learn from those and start fresh in Miami with minimal success as a team, but consistent success still as an individual. He was then signed by a team with a young coach to help improve a defense and contributed to a Super Bowl run as recent as last year.
While nobody should take away what McCoy meant and did while he was in Tampa, nobody should take away Suh’s demonstrated production and improvement in his on field conduct either. And certainly his off-field contributions shouldn’t be hidden away while targeting his character while accentuating McCoy’s own charity and foundation work in an effort to prove your devotion to McCoy either.
No matter where you work. No matter what your platform. No matter how you feel about a football player past, present or future, this doesn’t have to be Ndamukong Suh vs Gerald McCoy. It just doesn’t.