Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh just wrapped up a disappointing year. His Lions were bounced in the first round of the playoffs (their defense being shredded in the process), and his personal reputation took a few hits (on the field, and off).
On Tuesday night, ESPN airs a special called "Face to Face with Hannah Storm" in which Storm sits down with Suh and they talk about his anger issues. According to Suh, they don't exist. Storm brought up the possibility of anger management.
"It's funny to me. Like I said, I don't have issues of beating up people in bars. I know it's not right. And that just doesn't make sense to me. But I think people try and make their own opinion and I think it's a storyline. It's a great storyline. I've understood this year that a lot of people see, I guess me being a dirty player as a fun storyline to have and that's what it is to me. It's kind of comical to me to keep saying something and really don't have any substance behind it."
But there is substance behind it. Of the 1,500-plus guys who played in NFL games this year, do you know how many of them lost control of their emotions to the point where they stomped on someone else's arm? One. Suh.
I'm not saying that Suh does need anger management ‒ I don't know him, I'm not around him, and I've never given him a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation. However, what's more comical than saying that he needs anger management classes is saying that there's zero substance behind a claim that he has anger problems.
It also doesn't have anything to do with how nice a guy Suh is. I believe that he's a sweet man with a big heart and a charitable streak wider than Vince Wilfork. But a guy can be all those things and still not know where to draw the line on the playing field. It's not about how nice he is. It's about how far he dials up the intensity when it's game time, and when he's in that state, whether or not he can control himself.
I'm concerned for him. He's young and he's got a great career ahead of him. Envisioning him as a Hall of Famer is not difficult. But saying there's no reason to believe he could have an on-field anger problem seems like a little bit of denial. If a problem isn't acknowledged, the problem can't be fixed.