Some writers and fans are indignant at the words of Haloti Ngata this week, but I do not understand the uproar.
Ngata, in an interview with the Detroit Free Press, said the following:
"It’s exciting, man. I’ve never been a part of a defense like this. You have so many athletes: J.J., Ziggy, Caraun, Darryl Tapp. it."
"I’ve been down in Baltimore a long time and changing to this type of defense, it’s just exciting. I’m excited to do it and I’m excited to be here. Just can’t wait to put the pads on to see how it really feels."
So what did he really say?
Looking at the quote, it is pretty clear to me what he meant here. He has never been a part of a defense like this, with so little high level talent. It is exciting for him, because he is the focal point of the defense, more so than ever before. There is so little proven talent, there is literally nothing he can say in praise except to say that they are all athletic.
Sorry, but no one uses "athletic" as the sole praise, unless they have no higher praise to say. It is like when you set your friend up with a girl and say she has a "great personality." We all know that means she isn't pretty. So Ngata praising his teammates as 'athletic' is really just him trying to find the silver lining, something to boost their egos.
No one would describe players like Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, or Jimmy Smith as 'athletic.' There are many adjectives that are more apt, and have more meaning more than. Dominating, relentless, intimidating are just some of the many I would use.
Lets look at the talent level around him, year by year for Ngata's career (Bold= Pro Bowlers that year,):
2006- Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, Ed Reed, Adalius Thomas, Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg.
2007- Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Chris McAlister, Ed Reed, Jarrett Johnson, Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg.
2008- Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, Ed Reed, Jarrett Johnson, Trevor Pryce.
2009- Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Jarrett Johnson, Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg.
2010- Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb, Ed Reed, Jarrett Johnson, Kelly Gregg.
2011- Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb, Ed Reed, Jarrett Johnson.
2012- Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb, Ed Reed, Paul Kruger.
2013- Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Pernell McPhee, Daryl Smith, Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, Arthur Jones.
2014- Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Pernell McPhee, C.J. Mosley, Daryl Smith, Brandon Williams, Jimmy Smith, Will Hill
So in his 9 year career, he has only had less than 2 other pro bowlers on his team twice: 2012, when Ray Lewis missed 10 games, Suggs missed 8, but the team won the Super Bowl. And the 2013 rebuilding season, where only Suggs made it.
What does he have in Detroit now?
2 players who have made 1 Pro Bowl each: Rashean Mathis in 2006, and Glover Quin last year. They have some up and coming talented players, and Pro Bowls aren't everything, but clearly the Lions defense is not in the same universe as the Ravens defense with Suggs, Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed, 3 players who combine for 28 Pro Bowls and 13 First Team All-Pro in their careers. Ngata played with all of them in their primes, so the logical conclusion is that he was commenting on the lack of talent compared to his defenses of the past.
The Ravens defense his rookie year was particularly dominating his rookie year, with 6 Pro Bowlers and 2 former Pro Bowlers on that defense. Those 8 players combined for 39 career Pro Bowls. That is by far the most talented defense Ngata was or ever will be a part of.
So clearly, there is nothing to be upset about. Ngata could not have meant what everyone is thinking he meant. It is obvious what he intended to say.
(Disclaimer: the author is not this naive, but the comments are so ridiculous that he saw no choice but to dismiss them outright and make light of them)