Ndamukong Suh was voted the dirtiest player in the NFL for the second year in a row. Suh acts gentle off the field but has built a reputation on the field that also landed him atop the list of least liked players in the NFL earlier this year. While these two honors seem to go hand in hand, Suh could become vastly more popular if he embraced the paradox of becoming more of a villain to gain popularity.
The NFL was once a league where men like Joe Green, Dick Butkus, Deacon Jones, and Lawrence Taylor were idolized for how hard and mean they played. Professional football used to be a sport where the craziest player on defense was the most important tool for a team. Now, without question, we have a quarterback’s league where passing garners fame and hitting a quarter back garners a hefty fine. What use is there for a villain in hero’s league?
Any storyline is better when the hero battles an amicable opponent. No one wants to see Superman fight The Joker because it would not be a fair fight. While QBs have risen to super hero status in the NFL, the only recognizable villain in the last few years has been Roger Goodell, and forgives me but Goodell is no Lex Luther. If Suh were to embrace this label of Super Villain, ironically his likability would be on rise. Its more fun to cheer for the worst villain than a mediocre good guy.
Suh’s status as a Super Villain would not only help his personal popularity, but he would help the NFL. With the rise of a Super Villain the door would open for such NFL stars as Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rogers to become even bigger legends in their own right. The only thing more epic than watching the prolific QBs put up big numbers would be if they had to do it against a formidable villain. To quote another great sports villain, Jean Girard, “God needs the Devil, The Beatles needed the Rolling Stones, even Diane Sawyer needed Katie Couric.”
However, the only way this plan would work is if Suh’s Super Villian status translates to more cash, because he will have to pay out quite a few fines to Scrooge McDuck, I mean Roger Goodell.