Give Ndamukong Suh a chance to grow up

The obvious takeaway from this DetroitLions.com video clip will naturally be the group hug offered by Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. But Suh drew my attention earlier with a sentiment I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on.

"I think everybody has the opportunity to grow up and change their ways and find ways to be fun," Suh said. "You want to live life on the happy side. You never want to live it on the sad side of the things."

There can be no doubt that Suh has been a brooding, often grouchy presence in the Lions locker room during his first three seasons. Some of that was his fault, and some of it was understandable considering the intense national scrutiny his play has received. There is no rule requiring players to smile and display outward signs that they are enjoying their job and/or life, but it struck me as hopeful to hear Suh suggest that he wanted to do just that.

A cynic would note how often we hear public figures, and athletes in particular, suggesting they are changing their ways -- and how rarely it actually happens. It's also fair to note that Suh essentially is in a contract year, given his untenable salary cap figure for 2014, and that being on his best behavior is in his best financial interests.

But let's take Suh at his word here. I say we grant him a (relatively) clean slate and give him a fair opportunity to demonstrate that he can be an elite player without being a first-class pain. Everyone deserves the chance to be happy.