According to a story on ESPN.com by staff writer, Jordan Raanan, they took the opportunity to ask some questions regarding the league’s defensive linemen in order to gauge how these professionals view their counterparts on the other side of the trench.
One of the categories was titled “Dirtiest/nastiest defender”, and it should come as no surprise new Buccaneers defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was brought up during the conversations.
“Vontaze Burfict’s name surfaced. He has quite the reputation. So does Suh, some of it self-inflicted and some of it perhaps undeserved. Still, his name was uttered more than anyone else’s when linemen fielded this question. One player said Suh was more a fierce competitor than a dirty player. Another added that his reputation is probably a little overblown. (Mike) Daniels, (Aaron) Donald and Derek Wolfe also were mentioned.”
Two things surprised me personally upon reading this. The first is that Suh could be considered a dirtier player, or come to the minds of players more often than Vontaze Burfict.
The second surprise was Aaron Donald’s presence on the list. Not covering the Rams, it’s no surprise there are details about the team I’m not aware of, but I never thought Donald would be mentioned among lists of dirty players.
If there’s a positive here, it’s that Suh was also partially defended among the group of offensive linemen. It’s been years since he last had a noteworthy play which could be labeled as explicitly ‘dirty’. He’s had penalties of course. After all, is there a starting defensive lineman out there who has had success and hasn’t had a late hit or quarterback hit which was flagged?
Suh has a past. One he acknowledged. But he’s also had a years since the suspension he served early on in his career for some of his behavior. If anything, columns like these can serve as a reminder as to just how hard it can be to shake negative reputations.
I’m sure Suh doesn’t pay these things much mind in terms of play and preparation. As someone who covers the Tampa Bay Buccaneers closely, I look forward to witnessing the older and wiser Suh, who has at least started to convince people that perhaps his reputation is, “overblown”.