Steelers Nation enjoys a love/hate relationship with many current and former players of the Baltimore Ravens, and undoubtedly the feeling is mutual. I fully admit that I am a guilty party, but I think we should quantify the word hate. I, for one, hate that word. Everyone thoroughly confused yet? Good, now let me try to explain my thought process.
True hate is a undesirable emotion, feeling, or state of mind. It negatively impacts the individual feeding the emotion, not affecting the object of the disdain unless acted upon. This is a destructive trait that has no place in this forum, especially when discussing topics like professional sports and entertainment.
Hate is intense or passionate dislike, by definition. This definition happens to be very appropriate when trying to adequately describe the heated rivalry between the Steelers and Ravens. While there is no love loss between the two franchises, there is immense respect. That's the way it should be whenever two great warriors proceed into battle. No fear, but respect nonetheless.
Hopefully now that I have adequately explained my thought process, I will delve into my personal love/hate feelings toward former Baltimore Ravens DE Terrell Suggs. Suggs was a player that I loved to hate, and I actually enjoyed all the playful banter back and forth between Suggs and the Steelers during the two weeks each season leading up to their hard hitting, often division deciding confrontations. His sixteen seasons of Hall of Fame caliber play against the Steelers make him undoubtedly one of the longest tenured opponents in Steelers history, and arguably the most impactful individual rival.
Suggs respected the Steelers seemingly on a level worthy of his utter disdain, particularly certain individuals. Ben Roethlisberger apparently resides near the top the list, and for good reason. Respect has to be earned between the lines on the field, where warriors go to battle. Wimps need not apply.
Suggs credited Big Ben as being one of his favorite players to compete against, and for being one of his toughest opponents. Makes sense, as I have multiple memories of Ben wiggling free from Suggs grasp to make a game changing play downfield. Other times Suggs would be hanging on for dear life, in vain I might add, even as Ben completed another pass.
Suggs enjoyed a front row seat back in 2006 when his fellow Ravens teammate Bart Scott absolutely destroyed Roethlisberger with a blindside blitz during a blowout Ravens victory in Baltimore. The unforgettable impact was similar to being hit by a smart car while you are standing unaware in the middle of the street. Unbelievably, not only did Ben not fumble the football, he wasn't even knocked out. He returned to action later in the game.
That had to make a lasting impression on Suggs and his fellow defenders. They were strutting around the fallen QB like a pride of lions after taking down a water buffalo, only to see Big Ben miraculously arise and walk off the field.
Yes, I said walk off the field. Most QBs would have spent a week in traction at the local hospital, or at least been knocked into next week. Like last season, when our very own Mason Rudolph was knocked out, then carried off the field looking like a drunken Al Bundy wearing a leather helmet. Ben had to have earned mad respect from his greatest rivals that day, and vice versa.
The Ravens have had multiple Hall of Fame players through the years that I respected for their abilities on the field, but loathed off the field: Ray Lewis and Ed Reed immediately come to mind. I am unable to include Rod Woodson in this group because he is one of my all time favorite players, and he will forever be a Steeler to me. Now I have to include Terrell Suggs in the list because I believe he will one day have a bust reside in the hollowed halls of Canton, Ohio.
It will be easy to spot, just look for the smiling mug that looks eerily similar to Mr. Ed. All joking aside, the legendary rivalry between the two franchises loses a little more luster everytime one of the living legends departs the division or the game. Ravens fans will know the feeling when Big Ben finally hangs up the cleats.
Memories are the fabric that intertwine our love for the game, and in the end they bind us all together. As the old saying goes, you won't miss them till they are gone.