Terrell Suggs' 16-year run with Ravens nearing historic heights

Terrell Suggs is in the final year of his contract and his 16th year with the Ravens. Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale playfully refers to Terrell Suggs as Black Panther because the linebacker is in such excellent shape. Coach John Harbaugh calls Suggs a future Hall of Fame inductee and believes Suggs is on a mission to prove that this season.

But the label Suggs seemingly covets more than his Marvel superhero status or football immortality is simply Ravens linebacker.

For a decade and a half, no one has made himself more at home in one NFL facility than Suggs. He has a television in his locker along with more Blu-ray discs than most have in their living rooms. He has been known in the past to sneak into the media room and steal a few slices of pizza.

Suggs' comfort level is so high that he arrives to the practice field every day driving owner Steve Bisciotti's golf cart. That is, until he was finally caught doing so on the second day of training camp.

Making an abrupt U-turn, Suggs picked up Bisciotti and chauffeured him to the middle of practice.

"[Bisciotti] usually comes later, and the cart would be back, but he was actually sitting up there," Suggs said, "and I turned just like a kid with hands stuck in a cookie jar."

Few have enjoyed such an extended run with one team as Suggs. He is entering his 16th NFL season in Baltimore, and only two defensive players in NFL history (Redskins cornerback Darrell Green and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis) have been with one team longer, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

When Baltimore selected him with the No. 10 overall pick, Suggs was one of the youngest players ever drafted, at the age of 20. Now, with Suggs at 35, there are just two active defenders older than him (Terence Newman and Julius Peppers).

How long has Suggs been in Baltimore? In his career, he has lined up against Orlando Brown Sr., as well as Orlando Brown Jr. in practice.

Suggs calls spending his entire career with the Ravens a critical part of his legacy.

"That’s very humbling and flattering, because I’ve learned that not everybody gets to do that," Suggs said. "A lot of guys, before they’re done, get to play on two and three teams. To have the opportunity to play for one organization, it just goes to show the kind of organization we have, and it’s very flattering. We’ve seen a lot of Ravens that will always be known as Ravens not have the opportunity to finish their career here. I plan on being a Raven as long as I’m playing football."

Will Suggs be able to finish his career with the Ravens like Lewis and Jonathan Ogden? Or will he play out his final years with another team like Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata?

Suggs is entering the final year of his contract, and he will be a free agent in seven months. He has indicated that he's not close to retiring.

"I’ve always crossed that bridge when it happens," Suggs said. "I’ve never been one to jump into that topic before it was time, so I’m not going to worry about it now."

Suggs represents the last link to the Ravens' glory days on defense. He learned under Lewis and Reed, and he harassed offenses alongside Ngata, Adalius Thomas and Chris McAlister.

His impact can be measured by the record books. Suggs is the Ravens' all-time sacks leader, with 125.5, and he ranks second in career tackles with 907.

Many players and team officials refer the standard as "Play like a Raven." Some might suggest "Play like Suggs."

"He’s pretty much the blueprint of what a Raven is," defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. "If you’re not watching what Sizz does, and how Sizz prepares -- how he studies his film, how he works out here on the field every day -- then there’s something wrong with you. You shouldn’t be out here."

The younger pass-rushers will have the opportunity to show what they've learned from Suggs next week in the Hall of Fame game. Suggs isn't expected to play, but he will be in attendance on Aug. 4, when Lewis is inducted into the Hall.

Martindale offered a suggestion.

"I told Sizz to make sure he brings a toothbrush with him," Martindale said. "He can just leave it there, because he’s going to be up there using it again whenever he decides to call it a career."

Suggs ranks No. 17 in sacks in league history, and he's the only active player with 900 tackles, 100 sacks and 30 forced fumbles.

But Suggs isn't resting on past accomplishments. The former NFL defensive player of the year worked year-round at the Ravens' facility for the second straight offseason so he could report to training camp in the best shape of his career.

Last year, Suggs was a difference-maker with 11 sacks. The Ravens are excited to see if he can match or exceed that.

"I can’t wait to see him play," Harbaugh said. "I think he’s on a mission, and I think he’s headed to the Hall of Fame. I want to see that statement made this year, next year and for as long as he plays."