Ndamukong Suh is a contradiction. He is both a big (6-foot-4-inches, 307 pounds), bruising defensive tackle who has been accused of dirty play on the football field, as well as a gentle, soft-spoken person off of it. Even his name is intimidating: it means "House of Spears" in the language of the Ngemba tribe in Cameroon, where his father is from. In a league that seems to display brawn over brains, Suh was both, making the Academic Honor Roll his senior year in college. And while a dominant and imposing player from the moment he entered the NFL, Suh has also shown versatility as spokesperson for a number of national brands including Subway and Chrysler. He also has a giving side to him, donating $2.6 million to his alma mater, Nebraska. While still known primarily as a punishing, relentless force on the football field, Suh has already added two reality TV shows to his resume, and seems to have more ambitions plans to appear in front of the camera as often as his busy NFL career will allow.
Born in Portland, OR on Jan. 6, 1987, Suh's athletic career began at Grant High School in Portland where, in addition to playing football, he was also a shot-putter, winning the OSAA Class 4A Shot Put Title in 2005. But it was his work on the gridiron that brought him recognition and led him to Nebraska, a school renowned for sending its players to the NFL. By the time that he graduated, he was considered one of the best defensive players to enter the NFL in a generation. In his senior year, he won nearly every college football award -- with the exception of the Heisman Trophy, where he placed fourth. The Detroit Lions drafted him second in the 2010 NFL Draft. Suh hit the NFL like a force of nature, playing with a ferocity that sometimes bordered on dirty. He had a strong first year, being voted to the Pro Bowl. The "foul play" viewpoint intensified in his second season and culminated on Nov. 24, 2011, when he stomped on Green Bay Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith's arm while he was lying on the ground. Suh was ejected and then suspended two games, despite his protestations. Things calmed down some in the '12 season, his third year, but then on Nov. 22, 2012, he infamously kicked Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin, giving even more ammunition to those who questioned his fair play. Suh was only fined this time and still went on to be voted to the Pro Bowl again.
When it came to showing the public his other side -- the one where he's not slamming quarterbacks and running backs to the turf -- he did well with several appearances on the radio show "Mike and Mike" (2005- ) as well as two stints on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (NBC, 2009- ). After an appearance on a dating show, "The Choice" (Fox, 2012), he dipped his toe in prime time television waters by competing on the diving reality show, "Splash" (ABC, 2013- ), where various celebrities and athletes tried their hand at diving. While not Suh's natural strength, he showed himself a good sport, an engaging personality, and an ambitious and personable athlete with a future beyond his football career.