Mike Preston: Terrell Suggs brings some ‘sizzle’ to the Ravens’ final game against Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

Former Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs still laughs when he hears the name Ben Roethlisberger.

“Old Ben,” said Suggs with a sigh and then laughter. His memory then goes back to the 16 seasons he played against the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback.

“Bringing down Big Ben was very difficult and it was fun going up against him,” Suggs said. “He was always injured until it was time for us to play, and then he magically recovers and shows up for the game.”

Roethlisberger and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, formerly of the New England Patriots, always received verbal replies from Suggs, but Roethlisberger was his favorite target. No player has sacked Roethlisberger more than the Suggs, who took down the Steelers quarterback 17 times on his way to a career total of 139, his eighth-place finish so far.

It’s no coincidence that the Ravens chose the Suggs as their “Legend of the Game” for the regular season finale between AFC North rivals starting minutes before the inaugural kickoff on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. It is expected to be the last game of Roethlisberger’s 18-season Hall of Fame career.

There’s no better way—other than a win and an impossible playoff berth—to activate the crowd and say goodbye to Roethlisberger by bringing back the player who pained him the most.

“Yeah, I know why I’m back. It’s rivalry, Ben’s last game as a Steeler and all that,” said Suggs, 39, another potential Hall of Famer.

So, what kind of pregame dance would Suggs do? To know him, must be special.

“It’s probably something I’m used to doing, but I’ll play it by ear,” Suggs said. “I pretty much go off the energy of the crowd, feed them like I always did.”

Throughout most of his career, Ravens fans and teammates nurtured the energy of the Suggs. As the team’s 10th overall draft pick in 2003, one of the youngest players ever selected at age 20, he made his Ravens run with 855 tackles, seven interceptions, 37 force fumbles, 63 pass breakups and three touchdowns. career ended. Of his 244 career games with the Ravens, Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs, the Suggs started 226.

Maybe the top two achievements that would guarantee him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame are being named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2003 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. Those credentials are impeccable.

At the same time, the Suggs became one of the most colorful players on the team. Ray Lewis did his dance, Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams were a little crazy and Michael McCurry had jet packs and other kids’ toys, but Suggs was a combination of them all. He never stopped talking and often hijacked the golf carts of owners Art Model and Steve Biscotti during practice.

His music was unpleasantly loud in the locker room, he occasionally reported being overweight at training camp and he was involved in several off-field incidents. But Baltimore fans often attributed it to “the size of being there.”

On game day, he was a monster, a player who constantly chased down quarterbacks and taunted them.

“With Ben, you had more time to meet him because he was always trying to advance plays, which gave you more time to dismiss him,” Suggs said. “Not with Brady. He doesn’t last long on the ball. I remember when Ben broke his nose. We saw it bleed and then throughout the course, we found out it was broken .

“Brady never really got hit. He got the ball out fast enough that he didn’t take the punishment. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays another two or three years.”

It will be interesting to see how the Suggs, who retired after winning the Super Bowl with the Chiefs in 2019, handles the celebrations in today’s game. Officials have thrown more flags this season to crack down on taunts, but players are still allowed to celebrate and “mug” for cameras in the end zone after big players or turnovers.

Can you imagine Suggs being unplugged?

“I don’t know, I’m never going to pay the price for the team,” Suggs said. “I think depending on how much I did it and when I did it, I can get away without costing us. It will be subjective which referee you got and what you did.”

It sounds a little apprehensive for Suggs, but then the real Suggs emerges, “Sizzle” which came out on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s all part of the game,” Suggs said. “Disappointing, intimidating and all that, it just makes the game better. The game is designed to score touchdowns for offenses, but now if you do something good on defense, you get to perform. ,

However, Suggs has nailed it. His production company, Team Sizzle Films in Phoenix, had stagnated over the past year due to the coronavirus and has slowed down again due to another nationwide spike in cases. His acting career is in a similar holding pattern, which is no big deal for Suggs as he prefers not to be in the limelight.

“I’ve always been a more behind-the-scenes person,” Suggs said. “I’m still waiting for The Rock [Dwayne Johnson] To call me but until then I am still behind the scenes of writing and producing. ,

He is also an active parent. Their 14-year-old daughter, Dahani, is in eighth grade and is already 6-foot-1, which is why she plays basketball. Their 13-year-old son Duke also plays basketball and football. But don’t expect him to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“He thinks she’s Steph Curry,” said Suggs, who was once a basketball fanatic. “Right now, though, he’s not into football but video games. Me? I just love watching him and being au dad.”

Suggs still watches a lot of NFL games. He even featured in the Ravens season opener against the Raiders in Las Vegas, the first time he went individual since retiring.

According to Suggs, the game has changed and the COVID protocol has made a significant impact. Always playing inconsistent, but now it seems to be the norm.

“You can lose your starting QB the night before a game,” Suggs said. “It’s very difficult to go on a run. Luck is not in your hands, it depends on the players available to you this week. I would hate to go on a run and then lose five or six people because of COVID.

“I look at the Ravens and there are many reasons to fight for the defense. They have too many guys; their roster is over. Last weekend [against the Rams], I only recognized Patrick Queen, Tony Jefferson and Brandon Williams. Considering how the game is played right now and the way the world is, it’s hard to build a top-tier defense. He needs a little help this weekend, but stranger things have happened.”

Suggs says he is still in touch with many of his old teammates, most notably with defensive Haloti Nagata and outside linebacker Jarrett Johnson. He probably doesn’t like to talk about entering the Hall of Fame because there have been other greats who never made it. However, he prefers to talk about his great memories in Baltimore and his brief time in Kansas City. He won the Super Bowl title in both cities.

“My best memories were playing with people, Ray, Ed. [Reed]MILF Jonathan [Ogden], Eddy [Adalius Thomas]Jarrett, Haloti – the people I played with who helped shape my career,” Suggs said. “Winning the Super Bowl was one of the greatest experiences because our locker room was like no other.

“the second one [Kansas City] was really enjoyable. At first, we were weighing so much because that was the last time we were all going to hit the ground together. In another, I didn’t have all those deep connections. I was really good with those guys at KC, and it was fun to be able to go on rides with them.

Suggs says that he is enjoying life now and doesn’t know about the future. He wants the next 40 years to be as exciting as before.

But the next important date is Sunday. That’s when Suggs gets a chance to step on the same ground as Roethlisberger again. He may not be playing against her, but the Ravens want him to spread the same enthusiasm he used to bring to the stadium.

“Sizzle” is back.