It’s no secret there was a cloud of uncertainty regarding the circumstances of Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs’ partially-torn Achilles tendon suffered in the final weekend of April.
While the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year maintains he injured himself doing conditioning work, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter’s Tuesday report of multiple witnesses claiming Suggs tore the tendon playing basketball in Arizona confirmed initial reports that circulated when the news first broke on May 3.
Over a month after the injury was made public, does it really matter how Suggs was injured?
The Ravens have never commented publicly regarding the circumstances surrounding the Suggs injury, but it’s nearly impossible to believe the organization didn’t do its own investigating over what exactly happened when the star player was injured. In other words, Tuesday’s news was hardly surprising to the Ravens.
However, Tuesday’s revelation forces Suggs — and perhaps the organization — to address the story as the 29-year-old linebacker appears to have been caught in a lie if you believe multiple accounts from the Akchin Gymnasium in Maricopa. If in fact he was injured playing basketball, Suggs was likely fearful of any potential action taken by the Ravens to withhold his salary or fine him. Judging from his initial comments following the injury, it was clear how despondent Suggs was for letting down teammates and fans, another factor that may have led to him withholding the truth behind the incident.
Though it’s within their right as an organization to withhold his salary due to a non-football injury, the Ravens have given no indication they plan to do so, a course of action with which I agree. It’s understandable to be upset with Suggs over choosing to lie — if that’s ultimately what he did — but the reality is this injury could have taken place any number of ways.
Owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and fans would love to put star players in bubble wrap during the off-season, but it’s not reality. If you’re familiar with any of the off-season workouts players put their bodies through to prepare for the upcoming season, you know it puts the individual at far more risk than a light jog or simply raising a five-pound dumbbell. While Suggs’ participation in a basketball tournament wasn’t approved by team officials, he just as easily could have suffered the injury in Torrey Smith’s charity basketball tournament earlier this year or Lardarius Webb’s charity softball game this past weekend — events cleared by the Ravens.
The injury remains unfortunate and damaging to the Ravens’ Super Bowl aspirations for the 2012 season, but the altered cause of the injury doesn’t affect my opinion of Suggs unless we suddenly learned he tore the Achilles doing something egregiously reckless such as performing wheelies on a motorcycle or parachuting off a building.
If Schefter’s report is true, Suggs should come clean and apologize, which would allow all invested parties to move on from the incident once and for all. It doesn’t impact his recovery time or make the injury any better or worse, but addressing the issue now eliminates the lingering doubt and will allow the five-time Pro Bowl defensive player to focus on his rehabilitation with minimal media distractions after this latest wave of scrutiny.
Yes, Suggs used questionable judgment if he did hurt himself playing basketball and proceeded to lie about it, but it’s not worth holding a grudge against a player who’s been a standout member of the organization for nearly a decade.
He and the Ravens have suffered enough already.