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 Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders 
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Post Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
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http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/page/hill-111004/ndamukong-suh-changes-detroit-lions-culture-more-even-barry-sanders-did


jemele hill wrote

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Barry Sanders is the most electrifying player the Detroit Lions ever drafted.

To some, he's the best running back ever.

But to me, he isn't the Lions' best draft pick ever.

Ndamukong Suh is.

Yes, I know it's just Suh's second season in the NFL. Yes, I know his accomplishments have yet to come close to what Sanders achieved -- or, for that matter, to what a lot of previous Lions greats have done.

But I still rank Suh, the defensive rookie of the year in 2010, ahead of Sanders.

Suh isn't just a better draft pick than Sanders because he might be the next Reggie White or, worst-case scenario, the next Warren Sapp. It's because Suh already seems to have done something Sanders never could: He's changed the Lions' losing culture or, at least, been the most important catalyst in that change.

Detroit is 4-0 and tied with the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers for the NFC North division lead, and that's a sentence I never expected to write.

The Lions' Monday night game against the Chicago Bears next week marks the first time in 10 years that Detroit will appear on "Monday Night Football." And the belief in the Lions was so strong in the preseason that when single-game tickets went on sale in August, the Bears' game sold out in five hours.

Maybe you're thinking, "So what? When Barry was the team's star player, the Lions appeared on 'Monday Night Football' and sold out plenty of games, too."

No debate there. Sanders put on a show throughout his whole career. In 1997, he gave us one of the finest seasons ever by a running back, rushing for 2,053 yards and winning the NFL MVP. Sanders, who is third on the NFL's all-time rushing list, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Better career? Sanders wins easily. So far.

Bigger impact? I'll take Suh. Already.

Numbers are an important element in determining whether a draft pick is a success, but they aren't the only measuring stick.

When the Lions drafted Sanders third overall in 1989 (behind Troy Aikman and Tony Mandarich), losing was deeply embedded in the organization's DNA. Detroit was coming off a 4-12 season, and that was the fourth time in five years that the franchise had lost 10 or more games.

During Sanders' 10-year career, the Lions won more than 10 games just three times, including in 1991, when they went 12-4 and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins in the NFC Championship Game.

But there never seemed to be any real faith that the Lions could sustain that success. The fact that Sanders retired via fax in 1999 before he could get to the top of the NFL's all-time rushing list-- he was just 1,457 yards (one good season) behind then-leader Walter Payton at the time -- is the ultimate indication that he thought Detroit wouldn't be a serious contender in his foreseeable playing future.

"Barry was never the outspoken guy," says ESPN analyst Lomas Brown, who played 11 seasons in Detroit, eight of them blocking for Sanders. "Barry was always the quiet guy. I think a lot of times, the Lions took advantage of that. I never really remember the Lions going to Barry for any important decisions. With Ndamukong, I don't think 'outspoken' is the proper word, but he will say what's on his mind. I think the organization will respect that a lot of more than I think they respected Barry."

As bad as the Lions sometimes were with Sanders, those 9-7 and 8-8 seasons look like the glory years compared to what Suh inherited when he arrived in 2010 as the second overall pick in the draft (behind Sam Bradford). Detroit was just two years removed from being 0-16, the worst season in NFL history. In the 2000s, the Lions lost more than 10 games six straight years. In a league known for its parity, they somehow managed to be on a revolving, five-year rebuilding plan.

The team's litany of bad draft picks were embarrassing: Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Mike Williams …

Losing is one thing. Total hopelessness is another.

A culture like that is almost impossible to change. And although Suh isn't the sole architect of the Lions' turnaround -- certainly general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz deserve credit also -- his demeanor, attitude and edginess have changed the way the Lions are perceived. Yes, some think Suh is a dirty player, as he's been fined a total of $42,000 for vicious hits on Jake Delhomme, Jay Cutler and Andy Dalton in his brief career so far. But Lions fans fiercely defend him; if other teams-- especially other teams' quarterbacks -- fear Suh the way Lawrence Taylor was once feared, it's worth it.



Teams respect what wide receiver Calvin Johnson -- who perhaps has more freakish talent than Suh does -- can do to them, but it isn't quite the same. And Stafford, when he's healthy, is the franchise quarterback Detroit has needed for what seems like forever.



But Suh is the soul of the franchise.

"He sets the tempo for that team," Brown says. "That's where you're going to win it at. I've played on two Super Bowl teams, and in New York, we got beat by a great defense in the Ravens, and in Tampa, we had a great defense. If your defense is nasty like Suh is, it's contagious. Did you see Calvin after that touchdown catch against Dallas? I have never seen him spike the ball like that. It's just rubbing off."

Sanders was the last Detroit player whom other teams really feared. He had historic talent, but he was never the leader that Suh is, and he didn't embrace being the face of the franchise the way that Suh does. Sanders was so quiet that people sometimes barely knew when he was in the room. During those occasions when he was at odds with Lions management, his father -- rather than Barry himself -- was the one who publicly voiced his concerns.

Suh isn't a big talker; but in the offseason, he declared that the Lions would go 16-0.

That's about as non-Barry as it gets.

Sanders embraced Detroit, but he avoided the spotlight. Suh, on the other hand, is completely comfortable being an ambassador. You see him in Chrysler commercials. He hosted a wheelchair basketball game at Oakland University two weeks ago. This past weekend, thieves stole some football equipment from one of Detroit's all-boys high schools, the Frederick Douglass College Preparatory Academy for Young Men, which put Friday's homecoming game in jeopardy. Suh donated $8,000 to replace the stolen equipment.

I've seen a lot of bad Lions football as a native Detroiter. Now, for the first time in my life, Detroit fans are talking about their NFL team as though this current success is meant to last. You don't have to look much beyond No. 90 there on the defensive line to know why.


Wondering what people s thoughts were on this piece by Jemele Hill


October 6th, 2011, 5:20 pm
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
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October 6th, 2011, 5:21 pm
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
this article is a joke. In a couple short years the Lions went from losers to one game away from the SB with a supporting cast, especially the all important QB spot, that still left much to be desired.

In addition, Suh alone didn't turn around the losing culture - much credit to other players like KVB, Stafford, etc. - but lets also not forget Schwartz/Mayhew who should get the bulk of the credit.

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October 6th, 2011, 5:28 pm
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
pablo - i couldnt agree more

also i dont see suh as the leader of anything. Not the DL, defense, team, etc.


October 6th, 2011, 5:33 pm
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
Pablo wrote:
this article is a joke. In a couple short years the Lions went from losers to one game away from the SB with a supporting cast, especially the all important QB spot, that still left much to be desired.

In addition, Suh alone didn't turn around the losing culture - much credit to other players like KVB, Stafford, etc. - but lets also not forget Schwartz/Mayhew who should get the bulk of the credit.


Agreed. I love SUh every bit as much as she does and anyone else here does. But I Disagree with her opinions here. Schwartz & Mayhew deserve the most credit, and even on the D Itself KVB is bigger for the culture change. Suhs success is partially because of what KVB Inspired in him, and he has said as much himself. Suh has said he hopes to do for Fairley what KVB did for him.


October 6th, 2011, 5:36 pm
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
I have to agree with the masses here. I love Suh, but he's no Barry Sanders. Not a slap in the face the the Kong, Sanders was just that special.


October 6th, 2011, 6:26 pm
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
This is actually funny to read, but this completely wrong.

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October 6th, 2011, 10:01 pm
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
I don't want to discredit the article to the degree you all have.

While I will agree that Sanders has a bigger impact than Suh, I believe so in this way:

Suh = a player that you will see once a decade. He's that good

Sander's = a player that you will see once in a lifetime. He's that damn good!

So, while i do think his swagger and outstanding play has been a big part of the transformation for this Detroit Lions team, we might not ever see a player that changed a game like Barry did.

The difference is, and let's be honest here, we've past that 50 year marker. I don't know how each fan really feels about that whole curse thing, and while Im not a big fan on that whole subject, I do think that some things are bigger than our own understanding.

So Suh actually has a better chance to take the Lions further than Sanders was able to. Not based on talent, but circumstances, and this is the point the author of the article misses completely and/or doesn't dare to say because people with think she's a loon?

Just my opionion

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October 7th, 2011, 12:44 am
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
Love Suh but this type of anointment is wayyyyyyyyyyyy premature.


October 7th, 2011, 8:22 am
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
BTW - if you want to compare a player to Sanders I wouldn't pick Suh, I'd pick CJ. Rare physical gifts, the one player you really try to gameplan around, and as humble as they come.

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October 7th, 2011, 9:25 am
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
yostevo wrote:
Love Suh but this type of anointment is wayyyyyyyyyyyy premature.



Agreed 100%, can we at least let Suh play out his career before we start comparing him, especially to Barry who as one member said was a once in a lifetime player.

I believe when Suh's career is over, we will be comparing his play to Reggie White, Joe Greene, all those DL guys in the hall of fame and then his impact on the city of Detroit and the Lions franchise.

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October 7th, 2011, 10:45 am
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
The Monday Night thing made me look for some Barry highlights. Yeh, No contest, absolutely amazing.....


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUVFZYYzHPU

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October 7th, 2011, 1:58 pm
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
grgrundge wrote:
yostevo wrote:
Love Suh but this type of anointment is wayyyyyyyyyyyy premature.



Agreed 100%, can we at least let Suh play out his career before we start comparing him, especially to Barry who as one member said was a once in a lifetime player.

I believe when Suh's career is over, we will be comparing his play to Reggie White, Joe Greene, all those DL guys in the hall of fame and then his impact on the city of Detroit and the Lions franchise.


I completely agree with this post. Suh should have the opportunity to at least put together a career before any judgment should be made.

But let's face facts here. It's hard to compare the play of a DT to the play of a RB. And while I think Suh will be a great DT, possibly even the best to ever play the game, it won't make him the equivalent or greater of Barry.

Barry was so good, he made other professional football players look like they just came from a schoolyard game. He hurt guys without touching them. He was able to knock defenders down with a stutter step. He had unbelievable balance and dexterity. People in Dallas (well, most) will try to sell Emmitt Smith as the best running back ever. Some may say Jim Brown or Walter Payton. But none of them had what Barry had. I don't think I'll ever see another player at any position like him. He was just that good.

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October 7th, 2011, 2:29 pm
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
Suh makes everyone around him better and Sanders carried the team on his back

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October 7th, 2011, 5:39 pm
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Post Re: Ndamukong Suh over Barry Sanders
as much as I like suh....I just cant crown sombody as "best ever" in their sophmore year. thats simply way too presumptuous

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October 7th, 2011, 5:44 pm
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