Belly laughs, dirty jokes, obscure movie references and horribly off-key songs are never hard to find in Terrell Suggs' presence. Since his arrival in Baltimore, the Ravens' Pro Bowl outside linebacker has anointed himself as the court jester of the locker room. Suggs' agenda: injecting laughter into the ultra-serious world of the NFL.
Whether it's needling devoutly religious Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow during interviews, ridiculing commentator Skip Bayless during their joint television appearances or rapping like an overgrown Eminem with his facemask jammed into a camera lens at the start of practice, Suggs is all about having fun.
"The character?" veteran center Matt Birk said with a smile when asked about Suggs' penchant for jocularity. "He's an entertaining guy. He certainly has a lot of fun. Mentally and physically, the season is a grind. To have a guy like him around to lighten the mood is great. He will do and say things that make you laugh so hard your side will hurt. That's certainly appreciated during the course of a long season.
"We've had good banter back and forth. He's from St. Paul, Minn., but he went to the public high school and I went to the private school. Obviously, we kicked the crap out of them every time we played them. I always remind him of that. He remembers it differently, revisionist history."
During the Ravens' bye last week, Suggs paused while a scrum of reporters were talking with kicker Billy Cundiff about his left calf.
Suggs immediately noticed they were in a corner of the locker room that's been marked as "Patterson Park," where dice games are frequent and nose guard Terrence Cody booms loud rap music out of his boom box.
In a nod to the area and the atmosphere, Suggs began frisking the media to make sure they didn't have any weapons or contraband.
Many of his jokes are unprintable in a family newspaper, but Suggs tends to crack people up.
"I am just me," said Suggs, who's also the owner of an independent film company in Maryland that has won awards and brought short movies to the Cannes Film Festival in France. "I just try to be myself. I guess some guys think I'm funny, at least some on this team. They like my singing.
"If it doesn't work out after football, with the film, I might just go ahead and start singing. I'm really good at the Meatloaf and Celine Dion and such. I think I have a talent and should go for it."
Instead of listing his alma mater as Arizona State University before the Ravens' Sunday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Suggs said he attended: "Balls So Hard University." He was borrowing a line from a song performed by Jay Z and Kanye West.
When asked to rate his chances of winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors, Suggs replied: "I pretty much will leave it in God's hands, leave it in Tebow's hands."
Flamboyant and outspoken, Suggs doesn't worry about offending opponents or teammates.
Leading the Ravens with a career-high 14 sacks and setting a franchise record with seven forced fumbles, Suggs is rarely serious except when the football is snapped.
He spends most of his time chasing the next laugh.
"You can't say enough about Terrell Suggs," outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "He's everything you want as a player. He's a pass rusher. He plays great against the run. He's a smart player. He understands the game.
"He communicates really well, but in the locker room is probably his best side. The way he interacts with guys, his personality, you can't say enough about the guy."v
Years ago, Suggs threw himself an epic birthday party at Locust Point in Baltimore.
The party theme was a night in Las Vegas, complete with girls clad in bikinis swinging on ropes through the air like Cirque De Soleil.
There were lions and tigers in cages at the entrance. Celebrities like Christina Milian were in attendance along with his teammates. Only top-shelf liquor was served.
Suggs made his entrance fashionably late, showing up in a three-piece suit well after midnight several hours after his guests had arrived.
In the Ravens' locker room and on their practice field, Suggs is the life of the party.
Usually seeking irony, Suggs likes to wear a tight No 4 jersey to practice. Stretched across Suggs' big shoulder pads, it's meant to be worn by punter Sam Koch.
Instead of analyzing his game or taking the opportunity to brag on himself, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Suggs issued this answer when asked how he's improved this season.
"Where have I improved? My jokes got funnier," he said. "My voice matured. I don't care what you all say. I became a lot better looking. Where have I gotten better? I don't know. I think just anticipation of my game, just enjoying it and not really getting caught up into everything that doesn't matter but the overall goal."
Nicknamed "T-Sizzle," Suggs definitely has a unique personality.
He regards himself as more than a football player, viewing what he does on and off the field as entertainment.
"Sizzle is a great guy, a great teammate," safety Bernard Pollard said. "Obviously, you hear him coming. We're in here and you hear him all the way in the locker room. He's a loud mouth, but he's one of those who backs up what he says.
"Whether he goes too far or not, I don't care as long as he's on my team. He's a heck of an athlete. He shows what he can do on and off the field. That says a lot about him."
Regardless of the setting, Suggs always has plenty to say.
He delivered some of his most over-the-top comments for interviews prior to the Ravens' victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field, hyping up the game like a carnival barker.
Among his memorable lines before that road game:
"We have been declared war upon. We are the enemy of the state."
"Heinz Field is my Madison Square Garden. I love playing in this stadium. I love the way the people treat me, the welcoming they give me with the No. 1's. (Actually, they were middle fingers)."
In a special message to Steelers veteran wide receiver Hines Ward, Suggs practically dared him to play
"I'm looking at you, 86," Suggs said. "I need you to play. Please put on that 86, that smile and all the things you do."
"We know what this game's about it. [Expletive] it! Let's do it!"
That's classic Suggs, all enthusiasm and playing to the Baltimore crowd before another clash with the archrival Steelers.
If Suggs makes fun of someone, it usually means he likes them.
Late in the season, he kept staring at a newspaper beat writer before stepping to the microphone and finally asked him if he had been around all season. The reporter had been on the beat since September and had recently interviewed Suggs for an article.
Suggs knew all that. He was just looking for a reaction and having fun. It was like he was initiating someone into a fraternity.
Brutally honest, Suggs never relents when it comes to Tebow.
Unorthodox and statistically-challenged except for his wins and clutch performances, Tebow has become Suggs' latest whipping boy.
"He shows signs like he could be an NFL quarterback," Suggs said. "Right now, he's not. He's not held to the same standards the 31 other quarterbacks are held to. That's not fair."
Defensive end Paul Kruger sits at his locker stall, a few seats down from where Suggs holds court every day and blasts his extensive collection of movies that predominantly features comedies.
"He's become one of my good friends, somebody I've grown to know over the last few years," Kruger said. "He's definitely not just a funny guy to me. He's family. Yeah, we have a lot of good times in here.
"Everybody has his own personality and he does his own thing. It's a big group of guys, but he's one who stands out a little bit more. There are a million jokesters on this team, but he's got a little bit more of a spotlight around him."
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