Knowing Terrell Suggs, who has uttered an epithet or three, I’m sure we can’t print his initial reaction to seeing that his first NFL road game with a team other than the Ravens would take place in, of all places, Baltimore.
I mean, he knew he would make the trip at some point in 2019; teams know who and where they play in a season long before the schedule comes out. But they don’t know when, and I can only guess what Suggs muttered, or maybe shouted, when the schedule came out and he saw he would make his road debut for the Arizona Cardinals at the stadium he called home for the past 16 years.
He probably said something like this: “%$#@!” Because this Week 2 visit, whew, it’s awfully soon.
Had the game taken place later in the season, at least Suggs, the Ravens and Baltimore fans would have had time to become more adjusted to this strangest of new normals, i.e., Sizzle playing for another team after more than a decade and a half in purple.
Maybe it wouldn’t have been quite so jarring to see him in a Cardinals helmet at M&T Bank Stadium in late November or early December.
Instead, just one regular season game has been played. Suggs, well, he led the Ravens into their most recent home game that counted, the home playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Now he is … on the other sideline?
“Once it hit me that it was actually your home opener, that’s when I was kind of like, ‘Wow.’ That’s when the craziness of it kind of set in,” Suggs told the Baltimore media earlier this week.
Aside from it being crazy, it’s also, in my opinion, a bit sad. Suggs isn’t a run-of-the-mill figure in Ravens history. He is one of their four or five best players ever – “a pillar of the franchise,” Marshal Yanda said. He wasn’t here for five or 10 years. He was here for four presidential elections.
When you’re that intrinsic to a franchise’s DNA, it’s a shame your career doesn’t end where it started.
But, well, whatever. The Ravens wanted him to stay and “made a last push” to keep him, Suggs said. For whatever reason, he decided to leave.
Big picture, it isn’t a big deal. Ed Reed came back to Baltimore as a visiting player. It was awkward at the time but irrelevant in the long run. Reed, like Suggs, will always be a quintessential Raven.
But Suggs’ return is even more awkward. Neither side is sounding especially sentimental. Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh declined to get into what Suggs means to him. “The emotional part of it, I’m not going to worry about that,” Harbaugh said. And while Suggs admits it’ll be weird, he doesn’t sound sorry he left:
“It was a tough one, it was a tough one. Wrestled with it, kind of. Made a decision in the last hour. But, as time has showed, both teams made the best decision. It worked out for everybody."
I’m not sure what time has shown, but when you say you “kind of” wrestled with a decision, it probably wasn’t that tough.
Might there be more powerful emotions in the stands, where Suggs was a big favorite, than on the field Sunday?
Regardless, Suggs used a movie reference to sum it all up. “It’s a hell of a storyline. I consider myself a good screenwriter. I could never have wrote this, though,” he said.
The movie reference wasn’t surprising because if Suggs is into anything as much as football, it’s the movies. Actually, it’s kind of fitting that he’s coming back so soon because it maximizes the situation’s theatrical potential and Suggs loves that stuff.
In the end, there’ll just be a game. Suggs was superb in his Cardinals debut last week, posting five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. I’m sure the Ravens are preparing for him. (Memo to Lamar Jackson: Be very careful with the ball in the vicinity of No. 56.)
I suppose there’s a chance nothing memorable happens Sunday. But since when was Terrell Suggs boring?