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Playing basketball should not be an offseason crime for Terrell Suggs or anyone else

Shutdown Corner

Terrell Suggs has a wrecked Achilles tendon. It will heal at the same rate regardless of whether it was injured playing basketball, doing a conditioning test, line dancing at a country western saloon or pretending to be a dinosaur.

There remains some concern, though, about exactly how Suggs injured it. He claims the conditioning test, while others have suspected it was a pick-up basketball game. Recently, a couple of people who shared a basketball court with Suggs told ESPN's Adam Schefter they felt pretty sure that basketball was the culprit.

Whatever. Suggs says it's not true, which might be the only reason that anyone cares at all. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who might have the most important opinion on the issue, doesn't care.

See? He doesn't care.

Some intrigue remains, though, simply because someone's a fibber. There is one truth, but two different stories, which means that someone, somewhere in this chain of events, feels like it's important enough to lie about.

Why, I do not know. No one in the Ravens organization has said anything publicly about the injury, how it was sustained, or whether or not they'd care how it was sustained. Under NFL rules, if they really wanted to, the Ravens could attempt to get out of paying Suggs because the injury he suffered was not football related.

But there's been no talk of that. Suggs is still getting paid.

And all of it seems like a whole lot of tiptoeing around an issue that shouldn't be an issue. If a player gets hurt in the offseason playing basketball, why should anyone be upset about that? Because the guy was participating in the notoriously high-risk activity of pick-up basketball?

It's basketball. Millions of people play it every day. It's not like Suggs took a job as a rodeo clown and decided to perform that job while holding a pair of left-handed scissors to his throat. And even if he did, what then? A man's got to get his thrills somehow.

Trying to regulate a players' offseason behavior is, at best, fighting an uphill battle, and at worst, dictatorial hypocrisy. Guys like Terrell Suggs are hired because of their inclination to engage in physically harmful activity, endanger their own health, and probably take years off of their life. That's part of what makes them great at football, which, as you might have heard recently, is a violent game.

And here I am, talking about Suggs like he was having unprotected sex with a Botswana prostitute on the wing of rusted out Cessna flying over alligator-infested waters with Justin Blackmon in the pilot's seat. He wasn't. We're talking about pickup basketball here. Or, you know, a conditioning test. One of those things.

You can't value the danger-embracing, violence-inclined qualities in a man so much that you'll give him millions of dollars for them, and then ask that he turn them off in certain months of the year. Human beings don't work like that. And for that matter, neither does the concept of employment. Giving a man a paycheck doesn't mean you're entitled to dictate his behavior 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

You're going to ask a guy to ignore and/or accept all the mounting evidence that concussions can wreck a quality of life, but then tell him he can't assume the risk of a lay-up line? That's crazy. It's like telling a coal miner that he can't hang out someplace where he might be around second-hand smoke.

Guys can't stop living just because it's the offseason. These are athletes. They do athletic things. That's part of how they became athletic people. You can't make Terrell Suggs live my lifestyle for five months out of the year, nor would you want him to. How are you going to feel then, when he shows up for training champ with orange Cheeto fingers and gets winded after leafing through the playbook?

Life happens. It's up to the Ravens to decide if they want to punish Suggs for being a non-stationary human being, as well as risk upsetting him and sending the message to the rest of the roster that if they get the chance, they will attempt to stop paying you. Cetainly, Suggs benefits here from being a star player and a long-time Raven. The 53rd guy on the roster might not get the same benefit of the doubt, which is another issue. But the Ravens don't appear to be inclined in the punitive direction, which is probably a good call on their part.

It's time to stop trying to govern offseason behavior. It's impossible, for one thing, not to mention being counterproductive and a bit controlling. These are grown men. Careers are short and post-career life is often unpleasant. Letting them enjoy life now seems like the least we can do.

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