Ravens players, coaches reflect on Terrell Suggs’ brilliant Ravens career

Andrew Gillis

Terrell Suggs didn't decide to leave Baltimore until the final hour. 

A free agent at the end of last season, Suggs had the choice to return home to Arizona or stay in Baltimore.

The Arizona-native chose the former and decided to return to the desert for his 17th career season, a choice that means Sunday's game will be a homecoming of sorts for Suggs.

When the Ravens host the Cardinals this weekend, Suggs will walk into M&T Bank Stadium in opposing colors for the first time in his career. He said he's never been in the visitor's locker room.

"It wasn't circled, but when the schedule came out, I was like, ‘Yeah, I'm going to downplay it as just another game,'" Suggs said. "But we all know that'd be (expletive). It's kind of a unique situation, isn't it? It's kind of weird."

Suggs knew the Cardinals would play the Ravens this season, but the impact of that game didn't immediately set in until he checked the schedule twice. 

Then, it began to register what was around the corner.

"I didn't catch on right away," Suggs said. "I saw it was Week two. I didn't see if it was in Arizona or at Baltimore, and then once it hit me that it was actually your home opener, that's when I was kind of like, ‘Wow.' That's when the craziness of it kind of set in."

Suggs had 132.5 career sacks as a Raven and 854 tackles. He won Defensive Player of The Year in 2011 and was a Super Bowl champion in 2012. 

With his two sacks last week in Arizona, he's upped his total to 134.5 career sacks. That ranks 12th all-time, just ahead of John Abraham and Lawrence Taylor.

All but a sliver of those numbers came in Baltimore, meaning if Suggs wears a gold jacket in Canton, Ohio one day, he'll go in as a Raven. That's what makes Sunday's game so unique.

"I can't wait to see him," Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. "We love him. We miss him. He's our brother. I think, really, it's going to be harder for him than it is for us. Because of the eight years that I've been here with him, it's just been a pleasure to see a Hall of Fame career just explode."

And while Suggs leaves behind a host of memories on the field, it's the ones off the field that sometimes leave the biggest impact. 

Marshal Yanda remembers Suggs playing "Media Dodgeball" in the locker room. Marlon Humphrey remembers how he made him earn his keep as a young player. Others joked they couldn't say. 

But the player nicknamed "Sizzle" certainly left one in Baltimore.

"He did things the right way," Yanda said. "Football is No. 1 for him. He played at a high level, and he continues to do so. He's a great role model for anybody, let alone just in this organization. Like I said, he was one of our pillars."

That's the off the field aspect. In terms of the on-field aspect, Suggs is as dangerous as he ever was. 

He finished last week's tie against the Lions with two sacks and five tackles. At nearly 37-years old, it doesn't look like he's lost a step.

"You know all of the things I've said about him," Martindale said. "I couldn't help myself, I watched him play last week on tape. And he hasn't lost a step. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Ronnie Stanley, who had to block Suggs in practice for the first years of his NFL career, has seen up-close what Suggs meant to the Ravens organization on the field. 

Now, he'll try and stop him when it matters.

"I went up against him in practice quite a bit, but everyone turns up to a different level in a game," Stanley, the Ravens left tackle, said. "So I've got to be ready for that."

But the thing no one can pin down is what Sunday's game will be like from both Suggs and the Ravens perspective. 

Suggs posted a quote on Instagram late Sunday afternoon with the caption "You either die a hero,..or live long enough to see yourself become the villain." Other than that, however, he said he doesn't know what the atmosphere will be like.

There will be fan support and likely a few No. 55 jerseys in the crowd, and maybe even a video tribute to the team's former leader.

The thing everyone can agree on, however, is the impact Suggs had the rest of the organization, and how still goes on without him.

"Once I started to make some plays, he started to call me ‘The Future,'" Humphrey said. "So, I've always felt like I can play into that role, and all that is is just making plays on the field and doing things right in the building. That's what I've strived to do."

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Ravens players, coaches reflect on Terrell Suggs brilliant Ravens career originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington