The turnaround in Ndamukong Suh’s candor this season has been remarkable and a welcome change for those who want to know more about the Dolphins’ highest-paid player.
That continued Wednesday, when Suh discussed his desire to make the Hall of Fame, how much longer he wants to play and the legacy he hopes to leave when those playing days end.
Suh, a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro, said: “I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t” think about being enshrined with the greats in Canton, Ohio, someday.
“Everybody thinks about the Hall of Fame,” Suh added. “One of the first trips I took, I remember going to the Hall of Fame in Canton. I’ve been a couple of times. I went to see teammates there for breaking particular records — Calvin [Johnson], Matt Stafford, other guys like that. I’d love to be a part of it. Charlie Sanders, one of the best [tight ends] in Detroit Lions history, to be there with him, to see his bust and obviously unfortunately he passed recently, it was special to me. I was really close to him. But, yeah, of course you think about the Hall of Fame. But I’m very young. I think at this stage I have a lot of work ahead of me.”
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Suh is right.
Warren Sapp is probably a good standard for the kind of résumé that contemporary defensive tackles need to earn enshrinement. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler, the league’s defensive player of the year in 1999, a member of the all-decade team in both the 1990s and 2000s and a Super Bowl champion.
Also, Suh trails Sapp by some 200 career tackles and 50 sacks.
So it’s no surprise then that Sapp is one of two named players whose careers Suh wants to emulate.
“I think I’ve always prided myself on wanting to be a guy who’s been very similar to the greats,” Suh said. “Obviously, Reggie White, Warren Sapp, guys at that caliber that have changed the game from that particular position. But I’m only eight years into the league. They played many, many more years than me.”
Suh added: “I still have a lot of work ahead of myself. I think in this particular instances, one of the things that I would want for people to recognize from me is [that] you have to know where I am at on the football field at all times. If you don’t, I should be causing havoc. And even if you do, I still want to cause havoc.”
He has, by and large, during his time in Miami. After a rough start to his time here, he’s given the Dolphins exactly what they expected. Coaches rave at how he regularly fends off double teams, and if he isn’t part of a play on the front end he’ll sprint downfield to make a stop on the back end. Why? Because that’s where the ball is.
Still, at age 30, there’s reason to at least wonder how much longer he’ll be able play at this level.
Suh doesn’t have that answer but instead is focusing on the present. That’s what Lions veterans Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams did when Suh’s career was just starting.
He’s obsessive when it comes to caring for his body and has been that way to some degree since college. He has “five strenuous weeks” of training ahead of him in Oregon once minicamp wraps up Thursday.
“I think I’m built for it, first and foremost,” Suh said.
“I think, at the end of the day, it’s about coaches and how they take care of us. [Defensive line coach Terrell Williams] does a great job, [head coach Adam] Gase does a great job in allowing us to get good quality reps. Getting the work that we need to get in, but we’re not beating ourselves up, especially in these particular instances. Obviously in camp, we saw a great gauge of that as well. I’m not really worried about it. I’ve always prided myself on playing as many plays as I can possible, and I just love being on the football field.”