DALLAS – Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had Super Bowl week to remember.
He was named the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year and was voted by the fans the 2010 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.
In winning the AP award, Suh became the seventh rookie in team history to win an AP Rookie of the Year award, which is the most by any franchise since the AP began honoring Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1967.
“It is a great honor and one of the highest honors I can receive on the defensive side of the ball,” said Lions DT Ndamukong Suh. “I really, truly can’t thank my family, friends, teammates and coaches enough. They have been a huge part of it and the main reason I was able to be honored with this.”
Suh joins running back Mel Farr (1967), cornerback Lem Barney (1967), wide reciever Earl McCullough (1968), defensive end Al “Bubba” Baker (1978), running back Billy Sims (1980) and running back Barry Sanders (1989) as Detroit Lions honored as AP Rookie of the Year. Defensive Rookie of the Year and the first since Baker in 1978.
Since the AP Rookie of the Year Award was first established in 1967, Suh is only the sixth defensive tackle to win the honor and the first since Dolphins defensive tackle Tim Bowens in 1994.
In winning the fans’ voted for 2010 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year, Suh beat out and impressive group that included St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford, Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden, New England cornerback Devin McCourty and Tampa receiver Mike Williams.
This was the ninth year Pepsi presented the award at the Super Bowl. The five final were selected for outstanding performances throughout the 2010 season. Each week of the season NFL fans voted on NFL.com for a Pepsi Rookie of the week.
Hosted in the NFL Media Center by Rich Isen, Suh gave praise for the acknowledgement and thanked his Lions teammates. “This is truly a great group of guys,” he said. “I’m glad I could take this award home to Detroit. I thank my teammates. Especially the defensive line for taking me under their wing.”
All know the Lions have been in a long struggle for respectability; however, the selection of Nebraska’s defensive lineman, Suh, on the first round (2nd overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft, has proven to be a bright spot.
Starting all 16 games the 6-foot-4, 307 pound Suh recorded a team-high 10 sacks along with 66 tackles. In addition, Suh registered three pass defenses, one interception, one fumble recovery returned for a 17-yard touchdown and one forced fumble. Suh’s sack total led all rookies and defensive tackles. His 10 sacks made him only the second rookie defensive tackle to ever record that many since sacks became official in 1982.
Suh said he was not being arrogant, but he was not surprised that he competed at a high level in his rookie season. “I had great coaches at Nebraska,” he recalled, and when I got to Detroit the guys got with me and helped me understand some of the nuances of playing defensive tackle in the NFL.”
When asked how he will match a season where he received post-season accolades that were voted on by fans, media, players, coaches and executives. He said the when a team finishes 6-10 he understands there is still a lot of work to do.
“My teammates and I want to get the level of playing in the Super Bowl,” he explained. “The personal awards are nice, but team awards like winning a Super Bowl is what it is all about. That is why we play the game.”
The Lions finished the 2010 season winning four consecutive games, but is there really any carryover from season to season? Suh thinks so.
“I think anytime a team pulls together and proves to itself it can finish games and win is positive,” Suh said. “We got to a point where we learned how to finish. I think guys on this team are gaining confidence and they all want to get better as players and a team.
“The people in Detroit have embraced me and I want to embrace them, too. I want to be a part of the community and help give the fans a winning team. I really believe we are headed in the right direction as a franchise.”
Leland Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.