Monday, May 20, 2013

Through Helping Words, Mean Joe Greene Proves a Better Tutor for Ndamukong Suh than Warren Sapp

Casually, early in his career, Detroit Lions' defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been compared to "Mean" Joe Greene, both in play and in physical and mental stature on the gridiron.

Finally, some type of personal link was established between the two, if only through the media. When Greene was asked by the Detroit Free Press about Nick Fairley's recent assertion that the Lions' tandem of Suh and himself were the best defensive tackle combination in the league, the former Pittsburgh Steeler didn't disagree at all. "I wouldn't argue that," Greene said.

Between the two, however, Greene sounded most impressed with the controversial Suh, going on to call him "a powerful man" while urging him to not lose an edge given the intense publicity he's recently gained. Perhaps the most important concept from what Greene said to Suh regarding his play on the defensive line? "You need an edge to play in the pit. Anyone that talks about what you shouldn't do hasn't been in there." That's certainly a novel thought, but don't clue in the media.

From one fearsome defensive lineman to another, positive and useful advice. Greene admitted Suh has pushed the envelope a few times on the field, but said that those events shouldn't scare him, nor should he let voices from "nice, air conditioned places" dictate how he plays on the field.

One such voice from a comfortable spot? Warren Sapp, who has famously taunted Suh's game from afar the last two seasons while calling him a dirty player. Months ago, Sapp went as far as to say he could tutor Suh about proper play in the trenches. For his part, Suh initially welcomed Sapp's personal instruction, but nothing public has since come between the two.

The best advice for Suh? Forget about the mouthy Sapp entirely, who now enjoys the sight of his own television reflection too much and listen to Greene. After all, with 10 Pro Bowls, four Super Bowls and a nickname to beat all professional accolades, Greene was the far more accomplished and fearsome player, anyway. His unbiased advice should speak through much louder to Suh, who plays with the exact same mentality.

Suh should take the next step and sit down with Greene, attempting to pick his brain about technique and how to take the next step towards personal greatness. What he has to say should mean much more, given his words were designed to help and not fuel a media fire or promote a particular network agenda. In this day in age, few unbiased friends exist for a professional football player, meaning cultivation of these positive personal relationships can be be huge.

Meanwhile, Sapp and his kind will continue to talk, but Suh can choose not to respond or listen to them. At this point, only advice which helps him evolve as a player should be welcomed.

Finally, an NFL legend has spoken out in support of Detroit's embattled star with words designed to encourage and not discourage. That's a breath of fresh air.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on his personal Twitter account @SportsGuyTheMax or on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101
Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.
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