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Mike Preston: Terrell Suggs brings some ‘Sizzle’ to Ravens’ final game against Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger | COMMENTARY

Former Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs still chuckles when he hears the name Ben Roethlisberger.

“Old Ben,” Suggs said with a sigh and then laughter. Then his memory shoots back to the 16 seasons he played against the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback.

“Big Ben was very difficult to bring down and it was fun going against him,” Suggs said. “He was always injured until it was time to play us, and then he magically heals and shows up for the game.”

Roethlisberger and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, formerly of the New England Patriots, always received verbal jabs from Suggs, but Roethlisberger was his favorite target. No player sacked Roethlisberger more than Suggs, who took the Steelers quarterback down 17 times on his way to his career total of 139, which ranks eighth all-time.

It’s no coincidence that the Ravens chose Suggs as their “Legend of the Game” to be introduced minutes before the opening kickoff Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in the regular-season finale between the AFC North rivals. This is expected to be the last game of Roethlisberger’s 18-season Hall of Fame career.

There is no better way — except for a victory and an improbable playoff berth — to energize the crowd and say goodbye to Roethlisberger than to bring back the player who tormented him the most.

“Yeah, I know why I’m back. It’s the rivalry, Ben’s last game as a Steeler and all that,” said Suggs, 39, another potential Hall of Famer.

So, what kind of pregame dance will Suggs deliver? Knowing him, it has to be special.

“It’s probably something I am used to doing but I’ll play it by ear,” Suggs said. “I pretty much go by the energy of the crowd, feed off them like I always did.”

Throughout most of his career, Ravens fans and teammates fed off Suggs’ energy. As the team’s 10th overall draft pick in 2003, one of the youngest players ever selected at age 20, he finished his Ravens career with 855 tackles, seven interceptions, 37 forced fumbles, 63 pass breakups and three touchdowns. Of his 244 career games with the Ravens, Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs, Suggs started 226.

Maybe the top two accomplishments that should guarantee him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame are being named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2003 and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. Those credentials are impeccable.

At the same time, Suggs became one of the team’s most colorful players. Ray Lewis had his dance, Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams were a bit crazy and Michael McCrary had his jet pack and other kids toys, but Suggs was a combination of them all. He never stopped talking and often hijacked the golf cart of owners Art Modell and Steve Bisciotti during practices.

His music was obnoxiously loud in the locker room, he occasionally reported to training camp overweight and he was involved in several off-field incidents. But Baltimore fans often just attributed it to “Siz being Siz.”

On game day, he was a monster, a player who relentlessly pursued quarterbacks and taunted them.

“With Ben, you had more time to get to him because he was always trying to extend plays, which gave you more time to sack him,” Suggs said. “Not with Brady. He doesn’t hold onto the ball long. I remember when Ben’s nose was broken. We saw it bleeding and then throughout the course, we found out it was broken.

“Brady never really got hit. He got the ball out so fast that he didn’t take punishment. I wouldn’t be surprised if he played another two or three years.”

It would be interesting to see how Suggs, who retired after winning a Super Bowl with the Chiefs in 2019, would handle celebrations in today’s game. Officials have thrown more flags this season to crack down on taunting, but players are still allowed to celebrate and “mug” for the cameras in the end zone after big plays or turnovers.

Can you imagine Suggs unplugged?

“I don’t know, I’ve never been the one to cost the team,” Suggs said. “I think I could get away without costing us, depending on how much I did it and when I did it. It would be subjective to which referee you got and what you did.”

That sounds a little apprehensive for Suggs, but then the real Suggs emerges, the “Sizzle” that came out on Sunday afternoons.

“It’s all part of the game,” Suggs said. “The gloating, the intimidation and all of that, it just makes the game better. The game is tailor-made for offenses to score touchdowns, but now if you do something great on defense, you get to perform.”

Suggs, though, has toned it down. His production company, Team Sizzle Films in Phoenix, became stagnant in the past year because of the coronavirus and has been slowed again because of another nationwide spike in cases. His acting career is in a similar holding pattern, which is no big deal for Suggs because he prefers not to be in the spotlight.

“I’ve always been a more behind-the-scenes person,” Suggs said. “I’m still waiting for The Rock [Dwayne Johnson] to call me but until then I’m still behind the scenes writing and producing.”

He is also an active parent. His daughter, Dahni, 14, is in the eighth grade and is already 6-foot-1, which is why she plays basketball. His son Duke, 13, also plays basketball and football. But don’t expect him to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“He thinks he is Steph Curry,” said Suggs, once a basketball junkie himself. “Right now, though, he isn’t into football but video games. Me? I just like watching them and being an AAU dad.”

Suggs still watches a lot of NFL games. He even attended the Ravens’ season opener against the Raiders in Las Vegas, the first time he has gone in person since he retired.

According to Suggs, the game has changed and the COVID protocols have made a significant impact. There has always been inconsistent play, but now it appears to be the standard.

“You can lose your starting QB the night before a game,” Suggs said. “It’s very difficult to go on a run. The fate is not in your hands, it depends on the players you have available this week. I’d hate to go on a run and then lose five or six guys because of COVID.

“I look at the Ravens and there are a lot of reasons why they struggle on defense. They’ve got a lot of guys out; their roster is depleted. Last weekend [against the Rams], the only people I recognized out there were Patrick Queen, Tony Jefferson and Brandon Williams. Considering how the game is played now and the way of the world, it’s hard to build a top-tier defense. They need a little help this weekend, but stranger things have happened.”

Suggs says he still keeps in touch with several of his old teammates, especially defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and outside linebacker Jarret Johnson. He doesn’t like to talk about possibly entering the Hall of Fame because there have been other great players who never made it. He does, however, like to talk about his great memories in Baltimore and his brief time in Kansas City. He won a Super Bowl title in both cities.

“My best memories were playing with the guys, Ray, Ed [Reed], Jonathan [Ogden], AD [Adalius Thomas], Jarret, Haloti — people I played with who helped shape my career,” Suggs said. “Winning the Super Bowl was one of the greatest experiences because our locker room was like none other.

“The second one [Kansas City] was really enjoyable. In the first one, so much was weighing on us because that was the last time all of us were going to be on the field together. In the second one, I didn’t have all those deeply rooted relationships. I was really good with those guys in K.C., and it was fun to be able to go on the ride with them.”

Suggs says he is enjoying life now and doesn’t know about the future. He wants the next 40 years to be as exciting as the first.

But the next important date is Sunday. That’s when Suggs gets to step on the same field as Roethlisberger again. He won’t be playing against him, but the Ravens want him to spread the same enthusiasm he used to bring to the stadium.

“Sizzle” is back.


Source: Berkshire mont

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