MIAMI – There was a time, long ago, when Terrell Suggs and Joe Mauer were just two St. Paul kids dominating whatever ballgame was in season.
Joe was the quarterback.
“And I was the center,” Terrell said. “Jimmy Lee Rec Center in St. Paul. I was 10 years old. Joe was 9. Been awhile, man.”
It sure has.
When Joe came to his athletic fork in the road, he chose baseball, as some might recall. Pretty good choice and certainly a more health-friendly decision.
Terrell chose football. Another good step in a Hall of Fame sense, albeit a more painful path.
But how is it that the younger Joe has been retired going on two years while Terrell is still sacking NFL quarterbacks at age 37?
“I don’t know, man,” the Chiefs’ newest pass rusher said during Monday’s Super Bowl LIV Media Night at Marlins Park. “I just love this game.”
About that time, former Vikings quarterback Sage Rosenfels elbowed his way past a wall of overhyped humanity to embrace Suggs.
“Hey!” Suggs yelped. “I think I sacked this guy a few times.”
Sage hasn’t forgotten Jan. 2, 2005.
“My first start,” he said. “In Baltimore against that Ravens defense. He got me. We lost.”
Suggs has gotten a lot of quarterbacks. His 139 sacks rank eighth since the NFL made them an official stat in 1982. All six of the Hall of Fame-eligible guys ahead of him and two of the three directly behind him are enshrined in Canton, Ohio.
“I’m not thinking Hall of Fame or anything other than just having fun in this game,” Suggs said. “I’ll cross all those bridges some other day.”
Suggs already has a Super Bowl ring. He and Ray Lewis sparked a Baltimore team that held off the 49ers seven years ago in New Orleans.
This Super Bowl is an unexpected bonus.
Suggs left the Ravens after 16 seasons to join the Cardinals this season. He played 13 games before being released.
He wanted to re-sign with the AFC’s top-seeded Ravens. That didn’t work out, so he settled for the Chiefs. He played two regular-season games, notching a sack to give him 6 ½ on the season, and then helped Kansas City beat Houston and Tennessee.
Those wins set up a Suggs rematch with the team from San Fran. Not that he sees many faces he’d recognize from that Super Bowl.
Suggs and Jason Witten are the only players still active from the 2003 draft.
“That was a good draft,” Suggs said.
Yessir. On Saturday, Troy Polamalu, the 16th pick in that draft, will be earning his ticket into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A day later, Suggs, the 10th pick that year, will be playing in his 265th career game, including playoffs. His 226 regular-season starts rank 32nd in NFL history, one behind Lewis.
“And,” said Larry Suggs, a second cousin to Terrell and father to Minnehaha Academy basketball phenom Jalen Suggs, “I don’t see Terrell slowing down anytime soon. He’s never had a plan to stop playing football.
“Who knows? If he wins on Sunday, he might have so much fun he might want to go get another one.”
If the Chiefs win, you might be able to hear the roar coming from St. Paul.
“I’d say he has more than 75 relatives still living here,” said cousin Thetis White. “And I’m probably undercutting it. Terrell and his family were one of the only ones to move when Terrell was a sophomore.”
By all accounts, Jalen is earmarked for prolonged greatness on the basketball court. Back when he was 8 years old, one of his biggest fans was playing linebacker in Baltimore.
It was Terrell who helped Larry initially fund another AAU basketball team in St. Paul.
“A lot of kids in Minnesota got a chance to get out and see the country and wear nice uniforms because of Terrell,” Larry said. “And that’s pretty cool.”
Two weeks ago, White and seven other family members and friends found themselves in need of new “uniforms.” They were on their way into Kansas City to watch the divisional game against the Texans.
“All we had was Ravens stuff,” White said. “So we stopped just outside of Kansas City at a TJ Maxx and bought Chiefs stuff.”
White’s brother, D’Marr Suggs, is Terrell’s personal manager. He’s also the guy who gave Terrell the nickname, “T-Sizzle.”
“They called D’Marr ‘D-Sizzle’ when he played basketball at Idaho State,” Terrell said. “I wanted to be like my older cousin. So I inherited, ‘T-Sizzle’ when I was at Arizona State.”
And 17 seasons later, “T-Sizzle” is still packing some Super Bowl-worthy pop.