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Byrne Identity: Suggs Talks About Depression And Journey Back

Posted Nov 2, 2012

Kevin Byrne details the Defensive Player of the Year's trying road to recovery.

Suggs Talks About Depression And Journey Back
You guys saw Terrell Suggs on his return to the roster when he sacked Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the first quarter at Houston almost two weeks ago.
Before that, we knew he was close to coming back because “Sizzle’s” antics in the building were back – and they continue now.
Terrell brings more energy, noise and life to our facility, but he was quiet and subdued after tearing his Achilles in late April. The real “Sizzle” has returned, and workers have their heads on swivels. If you’re carrying papers in your hand, hold them tight. Terrell’s knocking them out of your grip when you least expect. And, if you’re working at your desk, beware. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Pro Bowl linebacker is ready to sneak and pounce, grabbing your chair, yelling and making people leap with fear at the interruption.
Yes, the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is back, an unprecedented return from an Achilles tear. And we’re all smiling because of that. But his journey from injury to starting lineup was extremely difficult, and it had Suggs “distraught” at the start of the process.
“I Was Depressesd”
“I don’t know what I would have done without my children, my mom and friends. I don’t think I could have coped with the injury without them. I was hurting, freaked out. I was depressed,” Suggs said yesterday during a lunchtime conversation.
“When the doctor in Arizona looked at the MRI and told me I tore my Achilles, I didn’t hear anything after that except ‘nine months to a year to come back.’ That’s when the world became just loud noise to me. I didn’t hear anything else. To this day, I don’t know how I made it home. I went into a funk,” Suggs explained.
“There’s no telling what I would have done to myself if my children and the rest were not around. I was distraught. I had just had the best season of my career, and the doc told me I was going to be out a year. It was all miserable. It was, hands down, one of the worst times of my life,” Terrell continued. “Then I had to tell people, lots of people. That was hard. Coach Harbaugh, I could tell, was heartbroken about it. He cares. My coach, Teddy Monachino (Ravens linebackers coach and Terrell’s former college coach at ASU), was really heartbroken. He and I are very close.”
Injury Changed Suggs
“In some ways, the injury was a gift from God,” Suggs explained. “It opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t appreciate – one was myself. Sometimes you don’t realize what you mean to a team, to teammates, even to fans. And, I took things for granted before. Little things like going to work, going to practice, playing with my kids; I appreciate things more now.”
The Surgery
Suffering both physically and mentally, Suggs flew to Charlotte for surgery. “We went to the No. 1 guy in the world for this type of injury, Dr. Robert Anderson. I was still a mess, and Dr. Bob told me that it was going to be alright. That helped a little, but I was so nervous. I’ve never had surgery. That scared me. I’ve never been under anesthesia,” ‘Sizzle’ remembered.
“Plus, we had to wait a week for the surgery. It only took 30 to 45 minutes for Dr. Bob to do it. When I woke up, he said: ‘Listen, this is going to be the hardest thing physically you have ever dealt with. This is what you must do – for a whole month, you can’t move. Stay in bed.’ Then ‘Smitty’ (Ravens Head Trainer Mark Smith) told me the same thing. ‘Stay off your feet.’
“For over a month, really a month and a half, the farthest point I went, besides going to the bathroom, was going from my bed to the couch and then back to the bed. Miserable, just miserable,” Suggs said.
Suggs lost his confidence. “I had doubts and wondered how I was going to make it back. But, I learned how important it is to have a support system around you. My cousins Rico and DeMarr were around every day. They would encourage me. They’d say ‘If you can’t do it, then nobody can. You’re going to do this. You’re coming back.’ They helped me with little milestones like getting out of bed, using the crutches, to the boot, then to a walking boot and then to a shoe,” Suggs recalled.
Returning To Baltimore
“I was in the boot when I came to Baltimore (in June), but it was terrible seeing my teammates work so hard and I couldn’t. Everyone was nice and concerned, but if you’re not in the circle, you’re not in. I was sidelined. I was working by myself with the trainers. I was out of sight, out of mind so to speak,” Suggs said. “Some days, I just didn’t have it. I didn’t feel like pushing through the pain and the rehab. Coach Harbaugh would encourage me. He’d say, ‘The only easy day is yesterday.’”
Smith, our head trainer who worked closely with Terrell, marvels at the way Suggs worked. “All of our trainers helped him, but he did the work. And, we didn’t just want to get him back on the field, we wanted to get the best defensive player in the league last season back on the field. And, that’s what he wanted. Like a lot of great athletes, he’s special. ‘Sizz’ wanted this, and he did it. Good for him,” Smith said.
Amazingly, Suggs did not return as just another player. He had a first-quarter sack, he batted a pass down, and the Texans started double-teaming him. “I didn’t know what to expect, and I was really nervous before the game. I didn’t want to be the reason we lost.” Clearly, Suggs was not the reason. He’s back, he’s made the building louder, the practices better and has brought an energetic fun to the team that is missed when he’s not in the mix. I’m glad we’re taking him to Cleveland.
Browns Are Improved
There is no team the Browns want to beat more than the Ravens. While they’ve played us tough, we have beaten them nine-consecutive times. We could give the pep talk to the Browns: “The Ravens used to be us. They left this city. They think they own us. They believe they’ll come into our stadium and bully us. They’re not bullies anymore. Let’s run it down their throats and make them plead for mercy.”
This is a turning-point game for the Browns. They’ve won two of their last three with a heart-breaking loss at Indy two weeks ago sandwiched between victories over the Bengals and Chargers. They played us tough in Baltimore a month ago. They lost to Philly by a point. They hung with the Giants in The Meadowlands. A win over us puts them in the national spotlight. We will get the best the Browns can muster.
And we’ll be ready for all of that. We’ve had to live two weeks being told of all of our flaws after the ugly loss at Houston. We have a chip on our shoulder. We have to prove we can stop a good running team – and the Browns will test us. We have to play better on the road. The Browns will get the best of us. We think we’re at a turning point, too. Let’s beat those Clevelanders. Talk with you next week.
P.S. Did I mention how happy we are that Terrell Suggs is back?
P.P.S. Just bumped into Ray Rice, who was heading to practice wearing Ray Lewis’ jersey. It’s a Friday practice tradition that some players wear other players’ jerseys. Only one player has ever worn 52 – the real 52. “I called and asked him for permission. He told me to do it and make sure we have a great practice. I’m saluting our big brother,” Rice said.

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