Watching Terrell Suggs play in the Super Bowl for the Kansas City Chiefs will stir mixed emotions for Ravens fans.
Suggs spent 16 seasons in Baltimore doing extraordinary things, winning Defensive Player of the Year (2011), making the Pro Bowl seven times and helping the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII seven years ago.
Now Suggs is back in the Super Bowl, but the 37-year-old outside linebacker is no longer a Raven. Instead of wearing his familiar No. 55, Suggs will be that guy wearing No. 94 coming out of the tunnel Sunday for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Suggs will always be most associated with the Ravens as the franchise's all-time sack leader and a longtime linchpin in their defense. He's enjoying his Super Bowl ride with the Chiefs, but his bond with Baltimore remains intact.
"You're always going to have feelings for your first love," Suggs said via Newsday. "There's always going to be something there. It's your first love."
This has been a strange year for Suggs, who left the Ravens in free agency last March to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens were surprised when Suggs left. They wanted him back, believing he had at least one more good season to contribute defensively and to mentor younger pass rushers.
Instead, Suggs returned to Arizona where he played college football at Arizona State and had his offseason residence. But his stay with the Cardinals lasted just 13 games, where he produced 5 ½ sacks and four forced fumbles before being mutually waived in December. The Cardinals were out of the playoff race and Suggs was longing to play for a contender.
There was speculation Suggs wanted to return to Baltimore, but the Ravens had the NFL's best record when Suggs was waived, meaning every other NFL team had an opportunity to claim Suggs before the Ravens. The Chiefs needed a veteran to fortify their pass rush and claimed Suggs, then persuaded him to help their push toward the Super Bowl.
"Like coach (Andy) Reid said, it didn't take much convincing," Suggs said.
If a less-talented team had claimed Suggs, would he have reported?
"I don't know what I would have done, but I landed in a very fortunate situation," Suggs said.
Had the Ravens faced the Chiefs for the AFC Championship, it would have created another awkward situation for Suggs. He had already faced the Ravens in Week 2 when he was still with the Cardinals. The Ravens won that matchup, 23-17, but returning to M&T Bank Stadium with the visiting team seemed surreal to Suggs.
"It was bittersweet," Suggs said after that game in September. "It was good to be back, and it was great to play in the stadium where I played most of my career. I really wanted to win, but this was the weirdest thing I've ever been a part of."
However, playing in another Super Bowl is a nice reward for Suggs, who is eighth on the NFL's all-time sack list with 139. The top seven all-time sack leaders are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which makes Suggs' case for reaching Canton even stronger. A second Super Bowl ring would bolster it even more.
Suggs will always remember the feeling of winning a Super Bowl with the Ravens. Now he wants to make another special memory with the Chiefs.
"Let everybody enjoy everything else, but we're here to play a football game," Suggs said via the New York Post. "If we win, we'll enjoy this for the rest of our lives."