By Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT -- Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham took personal an anonymous NFC scout's critique of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as a coddled underachiever, calling the comments "obnoxious" and out of line.
"Anybody that knows me, that's bad to say that I'm going to let a player get away with anything -- anything," Cunningham said Friday. "I don't do that and if there's one thing that I really get upset about is somebody challenges me on that. I've been doing this for a long time. I make guys play that don't want to play and you can take a poll around the league, a lot of guys would want to choke me to death but they made a lot of money, they had a lot of success and I'm not about ever to back off a player. Ever. Ever."
Cunningham said Lions coaches don't let Suh or anybody else "get away with anything," and he reaffirmed Lions coach Jim Schwartz's proclamation this week that Suh played one of the best games of his career in last Sunday's 34-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
"You can cross some things with me, the line, and say things, but you don't say that about anybody I deal with," Cunningham said. "It's against the rules as far as I'm concerned. And I'm not being anonymous by the way. I'm saying it and so if you can find out who it was, I'll go visit him and we'll find out."
Suh has been one of the most divisive players in the NFL since he entered the league as the No. 2 overall pick out of Nebraska three years ago.
He had 10 sacks and made all-pro as a rookie, but has battled his reputation as a dirty, unlikeable player.
Last month, an anonymous general manager told Pro Football Weekly that Suh belonged on the "all-hype team," and this week an unnamed scout told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Suh is "one example of a football culture that coddles elite players and does not force them to push themselves for fear that the player will tune you out."
"We complain at this level that finding leaders is a difficult task, but leadership is, as Eddie Robinson once said, fighting for the hearts and souls of men and getting them to believe in you," the scout told the paper. "For a player like Ray Lewis, he demands so much of himself and is willing to push himself, that when he confronts a teammate over work ethic, the player has no choice but to respect him.
"Players like Suh do not demand excellence of themselves because they believe they can be excellent just by walking on the field. These players will underachieve by comparison to expectations."