BALTIMORE — It’s been speculated for several weeks the Ravens would not attempt to withhold injured linebacker Terrell Suggs’ 2012 salary after he sustained a partially-torn Achilles tendon in late April.
Owner Steve Bisciotti confirmed it Friday, admitting he’d have a difficult time walking in the team’s Owings Mills facility if he made such a decision to jeopardize the organization’s relationship with the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year and five-time Pro Bowl selection.
“I’d be scared to come to work,” Bisciotti said. “I think it would be a terrible message.”
Instead of questioning the nature of the injury or criticizing his star defensive player, the Baltimore owner acknowledged how hard his players work in the off-season. He wouldn’t want Suggs or any other player choosing to take it easy as the Ravens look to make a Super Bowl run in 2012.
The 52-year-old owner expressed his admiration for players’ ability to work hard when the spotlight of the season isn’t on them.
“I would be more upset if he hurt himself sleeping on his couch all season, you know,” Bisciotti said. “To me, if our players are engaged in activities that kept them in shape, then I’m proud of them for doing it. I don’t know if I would be working out in April the way these guys do what they do.”
Though many of questioned Suggs’ motive for lying — if an ESPN report saying the linebacker was playing basketball instead of doing conditioning drills when the injury took place is true — Bisciotti echoed the sentiment of those who have pointed out the Achilles injury didn’t occur doing a reckless stunt or extreme sport.
Reading between the lines of the owner’s comments, you might even get the sense he believes the ESPN report to be true. But he sounded perfectly fine with that reality, empathizing with a player’s need to work out in a variety of ways.
“I want these guys striving [to work out] and it gets pretty boring in the weight room,” Bisciotti said. “He wasn’t kite-boarding. I’d like to see that some day — Terrell trying to kite-board — but if he’s playing basketball, that’s great.”
Bisciotti reminded critics of a few years ago when Suggs’ conditioning was questioned on the heels of signing a six-year, $63 million contract that included $38 million guaranteed in the summer of 2009. Suggs reported to camp out of shape and played at a sub-par level by his standards, vowing he would never repeat that kind of a season in which he missed three games due to a knee injury and posted a career-low 4 1/2 sacks
Suggs had 14 sacks and a franchise-record seven forced fumbles in 2011, becoming the third player in franchise history to be recognized as the top defensive player in the NFL.
“I’m proud of Terrell,” Bisciotti said. “He got criticized for being out of shape a couple years ago, and he said it would never happen again. He made the Pro Bowl [in 2010], and he made Defensive Player of the Year this [past] year.”