By Nicholas Barker
Terrell Suggs played an incredible 16 years in the NFL, racking up multiple Lombardi trophies and personal accolades, but he is still unsure whether he is done playing or not.
“I have been kind of taking some time with my family and my children,” Suggs says. “I’m honestly just trying to heal up before I make any decisions concerning my future. Just seeing whether I want to continue playing or not.”
This year has been one like none other. Suggs began this year playing with the Chiefs in the playoffs and winning a second Super Bowl ring, but eight months later, Suggs is still trying to figure out whether he wants to play another snap in the NFL.
“This is hard times for all of us, but we are trying to get through this as best as we can,” Suggs says.
Suggs is a favorite son of ASU, which began its delayed football season Saturday, November 7, at USC.
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Suggs kicked off his high school football career in Arizona, entering Chandler High School and then transferring to Hamilton High School, where he would become the No. 1-ranked recruit in the state.
Suggs played some running back while in high school, but he quickly transitioned to defensive end, where he was obviously more suitable. Living in Arizona, Suggs wanted to stay local for college, but ASU, where he would later attend and have a successful college career, was not his first choice or even second.
“Honestly, my first choice was the University of Arizona, because they were the first Division 1 school that started recruiting me,” Suggs says. “UA was my first choice, and my second choice was Florida State. Then I kind of changed my mind the day before announcing it. I wanted my father to go to all my games, so there was nothing better than right here in Tempe, Arizona.”
And what a career it was with the Sun Devils of Arizona State. Suggs excelled in his three years in college, and he earned himself quite a few accolades while attending ASU. Most notable are winning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 and setting the record for most sacks in a season with 24, which is still unmatched.
It was an incredible junior year, but Suggs was still unsure if he would be a high draft pick, but he was still optimistic.
“I was just very kind of optimistic, and I was hoping so,” Suggs says. “I never believed in miracles before it happened, and I was just hoping that I would have the opportunity to play in the NFL. I guess Baltimore knew something I didn’t.”
Baltimore made a great selection. Suggs was selected 10th overall in the 2003 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Other notable names from the 2003 draft were USC legend and former Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, Hall of Fame inductee Troy Polamalu and current tight end for the Las Vegas Raiders Jason Whitten. The Ravens were hoping that Suggs could help them achieve Super Bowl glory once again, and that is exactly what happened.
Nine years after being drafted, Suggs helped lead the Ravens to Super Bowl XLVII, where they beat the NFC champions San Francisco 49ers.
“Being in the NFL was a very humbling and flattering experience,” Suggs says. “To play among the elite and the best players in the world, and to compete at a high level, it’s just very flattering. I loved every minute of it.”
Winning the Lombardi Trophy is what a lot of players play for, and not many players get to receive the chance to lift the trophy. Suggs won it twice in his career with two teams, and it meant everything to him.
“How do you compare one with the other?” Suggs asks rhetorically. “They both have their own level of significance. Winning the Super Bowl, you can’t take away from that. I have had the opportunity to win two, and I can’t take away from that. To have the opportunity to win championships, it’s indescribable, to be completely honest with you.”
Suggs has had quite a few achievements in his college and professional career. From winning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year to winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Suggs had a tough time determining which of his accomplishments was the most satisfying.
“I think obtaining the sack record in college was really good,” Suggs says. “As for professionally, I don’t know how you top winning a Super Bowl.”
Aside from winning a Super Bowl, Suggs said winning DPOY was his best NFL accomplishment.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Suggs didn’t start to advance his football career until he moved to Arizona and started playing high school football. Almost 25 years after moving to Arizona, Suggs found himself on the Arizona Cardinals, where he played 13 games before being cut and picked up from waivers by the Kansas City Chiefs, who won Super Bowl LIV.
“It was just another opportunity to play in my backyard and have my family be there, because they had never been to games before,” Suggs says.
Although his stint with the Cardinals was not as long as expected, Suggs still made some great defensive plays. In his 13 games on the field, he had almost six sacks and had an incredible four forced fumbles, something that is cherished by defensive players. After his Cardinals release, he signed with the Chiefs, for whom in two games played, he registered one sack.
Suggs was not an instrumental part of Kansas City defense, but he still played just about half the snaps in the Super Bowl win, where he totaled two tackles and one quarterback hit.
Suggs reflected on his entire career, stating that attending ASU from the start was a fantastic decision.
“It was an awesome college experience, and I loved going there,” Suggs says. “I knew it from the first day on the campus that we definitely picked the right school and the best school to go to. I still stroll over there to try and buy some gear and some college apparel. It’s the only time I get to go over there though.” CT