Ndamukong Suh is heading into his fifth season with the Lions. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
If anyone can understand being labeled a dirty player, it’s Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. So when Oregonian columnist John Canzano recently asked Suh about Uruguay soccer star Luis Suarez and his now-infamous biting of an opponent in the World Cup...
"Now, I'm not saying I'd ever bite anyone, but you've got to give somebody a second chance," Suh told Canzano.
Perhaps Suh was unaware this is at least the third time Suarez has bitten a player during a game.
Suh has been fined more than $200,000 by the NFL since being drafted by the Lions in 2010 and became infamous himself for stomping the Packers’ Evan Dietrich-Smith in the 2011 Thanksgiving Day game.
Suh, at Nike headquarters in Portland to conduct a youth football camp, had a wide-ranging discussion with Canzano, including his efforts to rehabilitate his reputation. Among the topics covered:
■ On how people perceive him: “People who met me on the street would look at me. They were a little apprehensive. They'd sort of keep their distance, then if we had a conversation or an exchange they'd suddenly realize that I wasn't some kind of maniac. It was like they were surprised."
■ On what quarterback he most wants to sack: "Peyton Manning — without question. Peyton's going to go down in the Hall of Fame as one of the best who ever played. I want to take him down. Plus, one of my best friends met Peyton at the Pro Bowl two years ago, shook his hand and wouldn't wash his hand for two days. I want to take his hero down."
■ On criticism for spending his offseason in his native Portland instead of Detroit: "I'm there when everyone reports. I like being in my own niche and by myself. ... People here don't care about celebrity. I can walk around and do whatever I want. I'm a normal Portland person."
■ On taking his father, a native of Cameroon, on a surprise trip to the World Cup in June: "My dad took me to the World Cup 20 years ago. To see his face when I told him, man. Then we dressed up in Cameroon's colors and we were jumping all around when they scored against Brazil. We were probably the only two guys in the stadium cheering for Cameroon."
■ And, finally, on if he’s changed: "I haven't changed. I've just been consistent in who I am."