Suh: Negative reputation 'irrelevant in my life'

ByJenna Laine ESPN logo
Friday, May 31, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was formally introduced as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer Friday, says that the "dirty player" reputation that he's garnered over the last nine years has become "irrelevant" to his life and believes people should get to know him first before discerning what type of person he is.

"I think when you look at people in general, you've got to get to know them, you've got to have face time with them, you've got to be able to have the opportunity to interact with them," Suh said. "Before you pass judgment on somebody, always take the time to get to know them, meet them, have coffee with them, whatever it may be and then be able to go from there."

"I think when people have seen blips of's been in a negative light, rather than a positive light and that's due to outlets of media, social media, whatever it may be. I can deal with that because I know who I am as a person, I know who my parents are, what kind of child they brought up -- it's irrelevant in my life. I think the people that know me the best see me always in a good light and see the troubles and tribulations that I've gone through, as any human being goes through in their lives."

Since he was drafted in 2010, Suh has accrued 71 accepted penalties, more than any other player in the league, and has been fined $336,098, not including lost wages from suspensions, according to ESPN Statistics & Information.

The most notable incident - where he stomped on the arm of a then-Green Bay Packers offensive lineman - involved Evan Smith, who is now Suh's teammate with the Buccaneers. "I think that was in the past and it will remain in the past," Suh said of the incident. "We've interacted with each other multiple times throughout [the years]. He was actually the second guy I got to speak to when I got here today so, I don't see any issue with it. I think people want to make it bigger than what it is. I'll leave it at that."

Coach Bruce Arians added: "They were hugging coming down the hallway together so I don't think there's any problem. We're all here to win, and once you're in the same locker room you can forget all the past stuff. Some of that stuff happened a long time ago and I don't really care. That doesn't bother me. The way he plays football - I like that. So he's a good fit for us."

Last year, Suh was fined twice for over $40,000. Some have suggested that he's toned down his play slightly, though. In the last two seasons, he's registered 14 penalties - 18th in the league.

"I think the proof is in the pudding. If you go back and look at the track record, it speaks for itself," Suh said, adding that he does believe he can be a leader in Tampa Bay's young locker room, even if it's not as a 'rah-rah' type.

"I think I've always been a leader in my own particular way," Suh said. "Whether I was a rookie in Detroit or a ninth-year guy in L.A., I've always been a leader of action. And I think actions speak louder than words. I've always prided myself on that. So however that kind of evolves in itself. ... I'll lead in any way that is best for me, and at the same time that's best for the team."

Suh signed a one-year deal worth $9.25 million, with incentives that could push the total to $10 million, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.

Suh emphasized that defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was the reason he wanted to come to Tampa, having met him a few years ago when he considered signing with the New York Jets, where Bowles served as the head coach from 2015 to 2018.

"His personality, the way he looks at things, the way he wants to attack," Suh said. "Being able to attack, be very aggressive, play up the field -- obviously people have their responsibilities and whatnot, but I've always enjoyed being in an 'attack' style defense."

As for what number he'll wear, a decision has not been made, but Suh is hoping for No. 93, the number he's always worn in his career. It's also the same number as former defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was cut three days prior to Suh agreeing to terms with the Bucs. Suh said the two have a "great relationship" and McCoy wished him well when they saw one another at the Super Bowl this year.

"I'm definitely not taking Gerald's spot. Gerald's set the stone at this franchise for many, many years," Suh said. "I wish him all the best in his endeavors. I'm not here to replace him. I'm here to kind of make my own path alongside this team and be a shining emblem of some sort to help get to a winning, successful situation."