For every home game at M&T Bank Stadium, a member of the public relations team writes a feature story on a Ravens player in the gameday program. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is featured in the Titans vs. Ravens preseason program.
As nightfall swept across the Baltimore sky before the Ravens' Week 2 division clash against rival Pittsburgh, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs pounced through M&T Bank Stadium's tunnels, soaking in the soothing chaos buzzing amongst the crowd.
Rabid with adrenaline, he clinched his fists, loosened his arms and tapped one heel against its opposite leg compulsively. Hidden beneath the field entrance overhang, he paced. He paced and paced with impatience flooding his veins, until finally, he heard his name. He stepped out into the smoke-brushed alley ahead and listened to the roaring fans as rapper 50 Cent's "If I Can't" dropped on the stadium speakers. The signature sound of the six-time Pro Bowler's symphony erupted.
But this game-day ritual compared to none before it. Suggs emerged from the fog crowned in a Roman gladiator helmet. In a surreal, galvanizing moment that resembled more of an action movie scene than a routine pre-game introduction, the noise multiplied to extraordinary levels.
Pounding his chest and screaming toward the stands, he threw his arms in the air as flames burst simultaneously from the pillars beside him. After one last fist pump and leg thrust combo, he sprinted to his teammates, capping the cinematic opening act of what became a memorable night in Charm City.
"That was awesome," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata mentioned to Suggs on the sideline, expressing high praise for the aesthetic might of what he just witnessed – perhaps a defining image of the Ravens' 2014 campaign.
And what a picture it was, the scenery Suggs painted. The cameras never stopped rolling.
The Renaissance Of "Sizz"
Suggs, best known by his all-encompassing alter-ego, "T-Sizzle," or "Sizz," certainly owns the spotlight. His ability to not only craft his own image, but also inspire his play, extends roots to his lifelong passion for motion pictures. At an early age, he developed a keen eye for great theatre. For hours every weekend, he watched movies with his father and two brothers, obsessively generating ideas that could enhance the entertainment experience.
This dramatic instinct perpetually persists. With a demeanor that borrows many character roles, Suggs can needle the threads of any football rivalry with outstanding control. He sees each battle as a never-ending narrative line and sensationalizes games with movie quotes to build suspense. He is the villain. He is the one who leaves heroic quarterbacks quivering in their cleats.
For Suggs, every four-quarter quarrel is a feature-length film.
Named the Associated Press 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and 2003 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, the pride of "Ball So Hard University" has helped produce seven playoff seasons in Baltimore, including the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII victory. He continues to tyrannize the gridiron today, but it was in 2008 when he entered a new arena – the film industry.
"I've always had that passion for it," Suggs explained. "I had always told myself, 'If I ever have the time to really sit down and learn how to make my films, then I will definitely do so.'"
Suggs' venture into the movie business came with little surprise. Whereas most players just post a few pictures or inspirational notes in their lockers, Suggs instead installed a widescreen television and entertainment system surrounded by dozens of DVDs that he screens regularly at the Ravens' training facility.
"When I put on a movie, usually half of the locker room gathers in front of my locker," he said with a laugh and a grin. "People love movies, but I wanted to know everything that goes into making a film other than what you actually see."
To do so, the certified sack artist traveled to the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in Miami, an annual event that promotes the work of aspiring filmmakers, equipping industry prospects with the knowledge and skills necessary for success. Full of intrigue, Suggs attended a number of seminars that put his creative mind at work. He networked his way through the gathering and quickly assembled support for his ambitious dream – his own production company, fittingly titled: "Team Sizzle Worldwide."
Three years later, Suggs became the ABFF's "Pro-Hollywood Initia-tive" ambassador, encouraging professional athletes to explore opportunities in the film industry. Regarded by wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. as one of the most "well-rounded" individuals he's ever met, Suggs has served as the executive producer on five major projects, including "When Beautiful People Do Ugly Things," a drama-filled short that appeared in the 2011 Cannes Film Festival in France.
According to Suggs, the grind of producing films draws comparisons to his original niche, where "putting the right crew together is like putting together your team each year," and just like in football, the motivation for his work boils down to interactions made at a human level.
"I get it from life, man," Suggs, the co-writer on two of his five productions, stated. "You hear some crazy stories. It could be something your friend has been through, or that you've been through, or just a crazy idea that you dream about. Everything around me inspires."
Looking Through Both Lenses
Prior to a Friday morning practice at the Under Armour Performance Center, Suggs hustled onto the field where the linebackers grouped for individual drills. As he buckled his chinstrap, he immediately took notice of media members lining up on a cement patio.
Inching closer to the camera lenses, Suggs climbed over the ledge and stared at a cameraman through his charcoal-stained visor without saying a word. Instead, he pointed to the tripod, and the cameraman gladly let him take over. Suggs swayed the camera left and right, zoning in on different shots and affirmed to the group of reporters: "I'm getting great stuff here, guys." Pleasantly amused, he high-fived the cameraman and leapt back onto the grass.
Football is Suggs' priority, but when the tools of his secondary craft are present, his infectious sense of humor allows him to connect both worlds. In front of the camera or behind it, "Sizz" will be "Sizz."
"I would definitely say that I can just be myself," he said. "I'm all about having fun. I mean, why not?"
One thing is for sure: When it comes to Terrell Suggs, the cameras never stop rolling.