But Roethlisberger swears it is true, though he probably is hoping to catch up with Suggs outside of the Steelers’ backfield.
“I respect the way he plays the game,” Roethlisberger said. “He plays it hard, he plays it physical but he also respects the player. He doesn’t have this dirty attitude that a lot of young guys coming into the league as linebackers or defensive players have. He’s got a respect for the game and the player, I respect that.”
Roethlisberger later clarified that he didn’t make a blanket statement regarding young players. ”Just that some guys get it and some guys don’t,” he said. “That’s all.”
Suggs clearly falls into the former category in the eyes of the quarterback who has been sacked him by him 15 ½ times, including the playoffs.
And Roethlisberger would probably be the first to say that this game needs Suggs. Brash, sometimes outrageous, Suggs is one of the outsized personalities who have driven one of the league's best rivalries.
It also helps that he can still flat out play.
The 11th-year veteran is the Ravens’ all-time sacks leader (91 1/2) -- no one is even close to Suggs -- and he is fifth in the NFL with seven sacks this season.
“If he hits you and he hits you hard, he’s going to love it,” Roethlisberger said, “but he wants to make sure you’re OK because he wants you to keep playing, he wants to keep hitting you.”
The mindset has only made Roethlisberger’s respect for Suggs grow even though he has been a recipient of plenty of T-Sizzle hits. Suggs said the feeling is mutual even though Roethlisberger found a way to beat the Ravens in Baltimore in 2008 and 2010, victories that were critical to the Steelers making the Super Bowl.
“I like that he has his own style. He’s Big Ben,” Suggs said. “He’s a winner. You can’t do anything but respect a guy like that and his physical play.”
That doesn’t mean the two ferocious competitors always keep it clean, so to speak, when they are competing against each other. It’s just that they leave their battles on the field.
“We’ve had some conversations that haven’t been on TV and have been in the field of play,” Suggs said. “I think we both know that we are each other’s opponents but even opponents can show respect.”