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Lombardi's Way Sizzle Out

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Terrell Suggs Leaves Baltimore

April 26, 2003

The scene during the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft was chaotic. The Ravens wanted desperately to jump in front of the Jaguars to select QB Byron Leftwich. They thought a deal was consummated with the Vikings to do exactly that.

But things fell apart. Mike Tice & Co. failed to call in the trade and the Jaguars jumped in front of the Vikings and turned in the card for Leftwich. Within seconds, picks came flying in – Jordan Gross to the Panthers, Kevin Williams to the Vikings.

When the dust settled, Terrell Suggs joined the Baltimore Ravens.

Suggs at one point prior to the draft was pegged as the potential No. 1 overall pick after an extremely productive Junior season at Arizona State where he racked up a mind-blowing 24 sacks. But at the NFL Combine, Suggs left many unimpressed given his 4.84 40-yard dash time and a pedestrian 19 bench press reps.

Head coach Brian Billick scoffed at concerns over Suggs 40-time and suggested that he might start worrying when quarterbacks start lining up 40 yards behind center.

Billick’s outward lack of concern about Suggs’ speed has clearly been validated. Sizzle’s NFL resume is quite impressive:

• NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2003)
• 7× Pro Bowl (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2017)
• Second-team All-Pro (2008)
• First-team All-Pro (2011)
• NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2011)
• Super Bowl champion (XLVII)

He’s also the only repeat winner of a now defunct Ravens award voted on by members of the team – King Ugly.

One day Suggs will be among the esteemed in the Ravens Ring of Honor. Odds are, he will also join former teammates Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But before all of that happens, Ravens fans will be forced to see him dressed in the crimson colors of the Arizona Cardinals. And that’s disheartening given Suggs’ expressed desire to be a career Raven.

But that’s also the sad part of the business.

Word is, the Ravens offered Sizzle a deal that could have approached the $7 million he received from the Cardinals, with attainable incentives. But he wanted to finish his career in Arizona where the Minneapolis native spent his formative years. It’s also the place he calls home.

It’s his life. His career. Who are we to judge, particularly after he gave so much to the purple and black?

His departure marks the first time in franchise history that a Ravens defense will line up without Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs.

When I reflect back on Suggs’ career, I’ll remember a pure pass rusher who became a complete player; I’ll remember the class clown who became an incredibly intelligent player; and I’ll remember the resident court jester becoming a team leader.

We will see Sizz again at M&T Bank Stadium during the 2019 season when the Cardinals visit. And when he arrives, I’ll stand and applaud him for all of his accomplishments while in Baltimore. I’ll applaud him for embodying all that it means to “Play Like a Raven”. And I’ll root for his success every game that he plays in 2019, except for that one game here in Charm City.

As we bid Sizzle a fond farewell, I’m reminded of these words from Dr. Seuss…

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

And thankfully that trade with the Vikings on April 26, 2003 didn’t…

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is the founder and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he hosts The Russell Street Report and Armchair Quarterback both seen and heard on Fanimal Radio. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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