The Shutdown Corner Interview: Ndamukong Suh, Pt. 1

We've talked with Detroit Lions super-tackle Ndamukong Suh before, and it was our pleasure to do so again earlier this week. Suh wanted to talk football, of course, but he also wanted to let everybody know about a special promotion he's running with SUBWAY — if the Lions upset the currently undefeated Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving day, a lot of happy fans will be eating on Suh.

As the press release said: Suh has been powering up with SUBWAY® Steak Melts and feels a big game coming on. His STEAKlaration? If the team can snap its seven-year Thanksgiving Day losing streak, he will pick up the tab for lunch with fans at a local SUBWAY® following the game. 

So, that's where we began. Part one of the interview is here, part two will be up presently.

Shutdown Corner: I wanted to start off by asking you about your STEAKlaration, and what you're going to do for fans if the Lions upset the Packers on Thanksgiving Day. 

Ndamukong Suh: Well, I'm feeling really good about the upcoming games we have against the Carolina Panthers and the Packers. So, when we take care of business against the Packers, I'm going to treat our fans to a lot of SUBWAY steak melts.

SC: You guys started out 5-0, and it's been a little tougher of late. Has there been anything different that you can point to in the last few weeks? Anything you're doing differently, or not doing as consistently?

NS: I think the biggest thing is that we haven't been executing the way we did in the first five games. For whatever reason that may be, we just need to get back to playing the kind of football that we know how to play — just starting out fast, and finishing strong.

SC: You had very different results against the Bears in two games this season — the first one was a dominant performance by the Lions, and they got their own back in last Sunday's rematch. Were the Bears any different? Have their protections improved?

NS: They're playing pretty well right now. I haven't seen a ton of changes, but they've helped themselves by using Matt Forte and allowing him to hold the standard for the team on the offensive side of the ball. Coming out of the backfield as well as a receiver — he's a really big asset, and he's making big plays.

SC: Now, Ndamukong — I've talked to you before on the phone and in person — you're very considerate, intelligent, and well-spoken. You've never tried to take my head off like a bottle top, obviously because I'm not an NFL quarterback. What kicks in when you hit the field? There's obviously a predetermined mental approach you have to take to play the way you do. How does that kick in?

NS: Well, certainly, I have no friends when I hit the field. Especially my opponents. The guys I rally with, and the defensive linemen I play next to, and the defenders who play behind me — those are the only guys I'm [in line with], as well as the offensive players who allow us to sustain drives and stay off the field. I have a lot of friends in the league, but I don't see them during the game. It's all about business we need to take care of, and getting it done.

SC: You recently requested and had a meeting on ruled clarifications with Commissioner Goodell, Ray Anderson was there, Merton Hanks, Jeff Fisher, your own head coach Jim Schwartz — how did it go, and did you get some clarification on the way the NFL wants to do things? You've recently said that your response to that meeting was that you would be playing even more aggressively. What did you come out of there with?

NS: I play very physically — very hard-nosed football. That's the way I was brought up from high school; to play blue-collar football. That's especially true in a blue-collar town like Detroit. I'm going to continue to play that way, and I just wanted to have a little bit of understanding about the things {the NFL is] looking for, and the things that aren't okay. I'm going to conto continue to help my team, and stay on the football field.

SC: Did you feel that you actually walked away with a better understanding of what the NFL expects of you? Nothing that made you think, 'Oh — I do have to play differently?'"

NS: Not really doing anything differently, just continuing to play well and helping my team win. It's about having an understanding of certain things they're looking for so I can be cognizant of them, but things happen, and I'm going to continue to play within the rules.