Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been the target of several unnecessary signs and plenty of negative media attention due to his reputation as a dirty player, but he should have overturned that narrative quite some time ago. Suh has greatly cleaned up his game ever since his play reached a low point after he stomped on Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving in 2011. What people won’t focus on is the fact that Suh donates an awful lot of his money, and he’s become an easy target for criticism from those who haven’t been paying close attention.
FOX Sports analyst Heath Evans is the one who deserves to be heavily criticized for his work as an analyst, and you can catch a glimpse of his shenanigans by following this link. It’s one thing to be among the several people who didn’t think Chip Kelly would pan out as a head coach in the NFL, but it’s another thing to avoid taking accountability for rather vehement criticism of somebody.
Evans reported yesterday on 105. 1 FM Detroit to host Matt Dery that Ndamukong Suh missed several meetings on purpose and did a few other things that Evans referred to as “antics” in an effort to show his power over then-Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, who has since been replaced by Jim Caldwell. Many people, including myself, were skeptical of Suh’s sudden report, and the SideLion Report’s Zac Snyder wisely noted that Lions beat writer and only national guys have criticized Suh as a locker room guy. We’ve never heard any indications of Suh pulling stunts like that in the locker room in an effort to undermine the team. While it’s certainly possible, it isn’t likely.
That said, Evans’s report had plenty of smoke to it, since he cited three different players as his sources, and MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke noted that Evans played with current Lions running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell back when they were members of the New Orleans Saints.
Detroit Lions defensive lineman C.J. Mosley- not to be confused with the top linebacker draft prospect of the same name- emailed MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke to refute Evans’s report, which could quickly become debunked if a few more people refute it. Mosley wrote, “Suh wasn’t late to one meeting, or have any outbursts, or showed any dominance over the head coach. From what I’ve seen, they had a very good relationship. Not one argument, blowup, or even an incident where he disrespected the head coach.
“He’s nowhere near a monster. The funny thing is I was expecting one (when I signed last offseason). I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. ‘Big, bad Suh.’ But sadly, I was disappointed! Suh barely even talks unless he has something constructive to say in the film room or weight room, or on the field! For the most part he’s quiet and does his job, very well!”
This isn’t enough to complete refute Evans’s report, but it’s enough to make me think that it is most likely false. I would be surprised if Evans’s report is true, because it falls too easily into the “mainstream narrative” of Suh being some villainous cretin who only causes trouble. Plus, Evans himself has just as sketchy of a record as an analyst as Suh does as a player, so I’m more inclined to give Suh the benefit of the doubt. We’ll see, though, because it’s going to take some time before we make a judgment either way. I usually like to give members of the media the benefit, but Evans also isn’t a reporter or insider despite being a former player and likely maintaining connections.
There is one extremely important thing to note, though, and that’s the fact that it’s highly unlikely for a player to go against a star teammate, especially when giving information to a reporter “on record”. I’ll wait until a top NFL insider like La Canfora, Schefter, Rapoport etc. has something sourced out, but I also live by “innocent until proven guilty” in these cases.
Also, veteran offensive lineman Rob Sims told the Detroit News’s Chris McCosky that Evans’s story on Suh is “BS”.