ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Ndamukong Suh brought up something he figured not many people knew on Wednesday afternoon, letting the world know that he had control over where he would end up during the 2010 NFL draft.
It seems like a curious thing to discuss at this point, four-plus years after it happened, when he had just spent the previous almost 10 minutes explaining all of the other questions that have come up during his offseason. He actually handled queries about his contract situation (still unresolved) or why he skipped out on the first few weeks of offseason workouts with the team (he was working out on his own, as per his typical routine) fairly well.
He was about a minute away from actually turning things back to what he always wanted to talk about and always wanted to be about: football. And to that end, he showed up in good shape and looked dominant at points during Wednesday’s practice.
That is exactly what you’d expect from him, as he’s always shown up prepared and ready when he has arrived in Allen Park, Michigan.
So why bring up that he had the option to control his own destination in 2010? Why mention it now?
The answer came in a response to how he could prove he wanted to be in Detroit for the long term. How he could prove that he wants to stay with a franchise that has won one playoff game in the modern era and has one playoff appearance this century.
"I think I said this from the very, very first day I got drafted," Suh said Wednesday. "I'm here for a reason. I had an opportunity, probably a lot of you guys don't know, could have gone elsewhere when I was drafted. I had that decision in my hands -- I chose not to take because that's just the way I saw it. The same thing when I went to Nebraska. I wanted to be a part of something that wasn't just already set up or on its way to getting better, and I want to be one of the cornerstones of it.
"That's what I see myself in Detroit, being one of the cornerstones, getting this organization back to a championship level and like coach Caldwell said, we're not in a rebuilding year, we're in a year of going to get a championship and that's what I want to be here for."
So perhaps he is trying to show at the beginning that he had no qualms with heading to Detroit despite the franchise’s history. He wanted to be a part of transforming one of the worst franchises, in terms of winning, into one that could be a perennial playoff team.
Perhaps this was his way of showing his loyalty to Detroit, to give those who have criticized him some background information about his desire to stick around.
There is also no way to know right now how true all of this is from Suh -- at least the part about the draft process. His agent did not respond an inquiry from ESPN.com. Same with Lions’ general manager Martin Mayhew.
But there have never been questions about Detroit’s desire to keep Suh. Both Mayhew and team president Tom Lewand have been adamant about that all offseason. So perhaps this was Suh responding back -- saying the he’s wanted to be here from the beginning and that hasn’t changed.
If that was his point -- and with Suh, it is sometimes difficult to understand exactly why he does what he does both on and off the field -- then it was a different way of displaying that. See, in the NFL, players typically don’t have that type of power entering the league and when they do, they have mostly been quarterbacks.
There is also the possibility Suh mentioned this because he has heard the criticism about him -- he admitted as much Wednesday -- and maybe this was his way of getting some of that frustration back. Of searching for some loyalty from a fan base that sometimes has not given him that. It's tough to know exactly why Suh said what he said or what the meaning is behind this.
However, during the draft process there are almost always small, subtle hints behind the scenes with top prospects about potentially problematic destinations. So perhaps this was his way of saying he had no hesitation with Detroit in 2010, when the Lions were two seasons removed from an 0-16 season, so why would he have hesitation now, when the roster is much closer to being a team that can compete for the playoffs.
If that’s the case, then maybe Suh returning to Detroit ends up happening after all – and this was just his way of saying so.