Suh on ’10 draft: ‘I could have gone elsewhere’

Ndamukong Suh says he could have gone elsewhere rather than the Lions in the 2010 NFL draft.

Carlos Osorio

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The question posed to Ndamukong Suh seemed fairly simple.

If, as you say, you want to be a Detroit Lion for the long term, then why?

What happened next is another example of how controversy just seems to follow Suh, the Lions’ All-Pro defensive tackle, largely because he’s a master at creating it.

"I think I’ve said this from the very, very first day I got drafted," Suh said. "I’m here for a reason.

"I had an opportunity, probably a lot of you guys don’t know, I could have gone elsewhere when I was drafted, had that decision in my hands. I chose not to take it because that’s just the way I saw it.

"Same thing when I went to Nebraska."

Hold on there, big fella.

You could have gone elsewhere rather than get drafted by the Lions with the No. 2 pick overall in the 2010 NFL Draft?

How would that have been possible?

"There’s many ways to do things," Suh said. "You can drop down in the draft, you can move up in the draft. People can come get you. There’s a lot of things that happen that you guys don’t know."

Suh shows up for Lions' first OTA

Suh insisted it was all his call at the time.

"It is my choice," he said. "It is, for sure, my choice.

"That’s water under the bridge. I’m here in Detroit and I’m happy to be here in Detroit. I’m going to continue to play my heart out."

Suh then walked off from the news conference without clarifying exactly what he meant when he said he could have gone elsewhere on draft day.

Were the Lions ready to trade him if he didn’t want to get drafted by them? Could he have forced them to make that type of move, the way New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning did when he didn’t want to get drafted by the San Diego Chargers?

Only Suh can create a new controversy on a day he was expected to put an end to another one.

Maybe this was his idea of a diversion.

Suh’s absence from the first few weeks of the Lions’ off-season program was the main focus for much of the news conference before he dropped this latest bombshell at the very end.

Suh returned to the team Tuesday for the first OTA (Organized Team Activities) practice and met with the media for the first time Wednesday.

"It feels great to be here," Suh said. "This is the same time I came last year. I’m personally being consistent."

Suh has been widely criticized in the media for failing to show leadership by not attending several of the other voluntary workouts in recent weeks, including a three-day mini-camp, when the rest of his teammates were getting acclimated to a new system with a new coaching staff.

"I always go back home (to Oregon at that time)," Suh said of his absence. "I’ve been doing it for I don’t know how long, ever since I’ve been in the league.

"I’ve been in a great (training) program, one that’s dialed in exactly to me, what’s best for my body to have longevity, which has been proven. I haven’t missed many games, if any at all."

Suh has missed only two games in his career, both because of a suspension, never because of an injury.

He said he doesn’t think skipping the previous team workouts affects his leadership ability after being selected as a captain last season for the first time in his four-year career.

I could have gone elsewhere when I was drafted, had that decision in my hands.

Ndamukong Suh

"My teammates have known for years that’s the way I go about my business," Suh said. "Last year I came in the same exact time. I showed that I was worthy of wearing a ‘C’ at that point in time. I look forward to doing the same thing."

Suh heard about the critics from afar, but he said he paid no attention to it.

"Yeah, for sure, I’m aware of it," he said. "I have friends, family, people that are close to me (tell him) that people are saying bad things about me and blah, blah, blah. People are always going to talk bad about you. You’d have to be a deaf-mute if you didn’t hear it. I hear it, but it doesn’t necessarily bother me."

Suh has one more year remaining on his original contract with the Lions. He can become an unrestricted free agent after this coming season if he doesn’t reach an agreement on contract extension.

The two sides have started negotiations, but it’s unclear how close they may or may not be to reaching a deal.

Suh made it clear that the contract situation wasn’t a factor in his decision to miss some of the team’s voluntary workouts.

"It has nothing to do with my contract," he said. "If it was about my contract, I wouldn’t be here now."

Suh did reiterate that he wants to stay in Detroit.

"Without question," he said. "I don’t think anybody wouldn’t want to be a Lion. Obviously, I’ve been here and understood what’s so great about this team, the potential that we have. We’ve got to stop living off potential."

As for when a contract might get done, Suh said he’s "not going to put a timetable on it."

"I’m under contract, I’m here to play," he said. "I’m not going to worry about the contract talk. This will probably be the last time I discuss my contract."

When a reporter suggested that because he seems to enjoy the spotlight so much — after all this is the guy who has appeared on reality diving and dating television shows — could he be looking for a record-breaking contract for a defensive tackle or even a defensive player?

"You’re definitely wrong in your notion of who I am," Suh responded. "I’m not a person that sits in the spotlight. If I could, I’d just come out on the field and play when I have to play and then go back and do what I have to do.

"I’m not necessarily looking at anything (a record deal) of that sort."

One thing Suh did promise, which he has always upheld:  "I’m going to be here prepared when it’s time to go."