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Seahawks respect Suh, NFL’s most disliked player

Bill Swartz

After I spent 15 minutes on the phone talking with Ndamukong Suh, the Lions’ star defensive tackle, I can’t understand why so many folks have such a negative impression of him. He came across as very thoughtful and somewhat of a gentle giant.

In a recent poll of fans conducted by Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research, Suh ranked as the league’s most disliked player with only 19 percent appeal. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was second at 21 percent.

Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh has a reputation as a dirty player, but the league deemed his takedown of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on Monday night to be legal. (AP)

Suh has seen his popularity tumble since a dominant rookie season in 2010. Last season, he drew a two-game suspension from the NFL for stomping on Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith and has been involved in three minor traffic incidents and two lawsuits.

On Monday night, Suh sacked Cutler violently just before halftime, injuring his ribs and knocking him temporarily out of the game. The NFL said the play was legal, and Suh and Cutler both agreed it was clean.

Suh, a Portland, Ore. native, told me he plans to keep on chasing and hitting quarterbacks.

“I consider myself a good and great player, upcoming,” he said confidently. “I’ll continue to play hard and when I have an opportunity to take a quarterback down or a running back down, I will try to take him down as fast as I can.”

In a poll of fellow players conducted by the Sporting News, Suh was named the dirtiest player in the NFL. Winning a popularity contest is not his priority.

“It’s not going to hurt my feelings,” he said. “I’ve had an understanding that in this world many people don’t like me, many people might like me, and there will be some in between. I’ll just leave it at that.”

Preparing for his first confrontation with Suh, Seahawks center Max Unger sees a very good lineman who plays the game hard.

“He’s made a lot of great plays in the first couple years, and you just have to know where he is and not do anything crazy,” Unger said. “You can’t freak out against a player that good. You have to have a game plan and stay with it.”

Suh has mutual respect for the Seahawks, most notably running back Marshawn Lynch. The two have spent time together on television and photo commercial shoots.

Asked whether it would be hard to see a shorter Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in the pocket, Suh replied: “Michael Vick and Drew Brees are both kind of short, and I haven’t had trouble hitting them.”