Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt, but of the 10 Chicago Bears players surveyed in our NFL Nation survey, just two listed Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as the league’s most feared player.
Nonetheless, both Suh and Lions receiver Calvin Johnson share the honor.
The duo obviously has experienced several run-ins over the years against the Bears. In Johnson’s case, it’s been simply a case of dominance. In 13 career games against the Bears, Johnson has hauled in 63 passes for 928 yards and seven touchdowns. The only other team he’s done more damage against is the Green Bay Packers (71 catches for 1,163 yards and 12 TDs in 12 career games).
Suh, meanwhile, conjures mention of dirty play among Bears players and has for years.
Although Suh didn’t take part in any questionable encounters against the Bears in 2013, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall did mention “borderline illegal” play back in November when discussing the club’s defensive line as a whole. Obviously, Suh is that unit’s leader.
“I’m looking at film today, and it was kind of disgusting to see the D-line go out of their way to knock our quarterbacks down after every single play,” Marshall said. “The ball was gone. They’re pushing them down. They’re hitting them below their knees. It was kind of disgusting. It seemed like it was game planned, but it was borderline. You can’t say it was illegal. But it was definitely one of those things where you say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to pay attention to this.’”
Back in 2012, Suh drew heat for a hit on quarterback Jay Cutler that forced him to leave an October contest with bruised ribs. Suh wasn’t fined for that incident, and Cutler actually considered the hit to be clean.
That didn’t stop Marshall from offering his take on Twitter and ESPN’s “First Take.”
"A Suh," Marshall tweeted. "What u did to Jay wasn't cool. Great players don't have to do that. A Suh. Something I've learned and now passing down to you. Succeed with character."
Later on "First Take," Marshall said: "Last night the leg whip that Ndamukong Suh placed on our quarterback Jay Cutler: That was dirty. That was dirty. He can be one of the best D-tackles that ever done it, but he cannot do that that way. If you look at it, c'mon man, this is not wrestling. You don't do that. That's not clean."
Throughout the series between the Bears, the teams have engaged in aggressive play often deemed illegal by the NFL with Suh being involved in many of the incidents. In 2011, Suh yanked off Cutler’s helmet during a 37-13 win at Soldier Field. In that game, six players received fines totaling $62,500, including Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford ($7,500) and former Chicago cornerback D.J. Moore ($15,000), who were involved in an incident that led to an on-field brawl between the teams.
During the first meeting between the teams in 2011 -- a 24-13 Lions win at Ford Field on Oct. 10 -- former Bears safety Brandon Meriweather received a $25,000 fine for a vicious hit on receiver Nate Burleson while cornerback Charles Tillman was fined $7,500 for a horse-collar tackle on Jahvid Best.
Going as far back as 2010, Suh was fined $15,000 for shoving Cutler hard in the back during a 24-20 Bears win.
So while Johnson might actually be somewhat feared by the Bears, perhaps Suh is simply hated.