The Baltimore Ravens have had several dominant players with iconic personalities throughout the franchise’s storied history. Probable future first-ballot Hall of Fame outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was certainly one of them and even though he donned a jersey for two more different teams before hanging up his cleats, he still views himself as a “Raven for life.”
Imagining a player of Suggs’ prestige ever wearing anything but some sort of combination of black, purple, and white seemed unthinkable for the first 16 years of his career. He had been a seven-time Pro Bowler, an All-Pro, Defensive Player of the Year, is still the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks, and helped lead the team to their second Super Bowl championship.
As unimaginable as the thought of him suiting up from another team was, that was exactly what happened in March of 2019 when the jovial Charm City icon known as T-Sizzle signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
At the time it came as a shock to both the Ravens front office and organization as a whole, especially their passionate fan base that had endeared themselves to him for nearly two decades.
Suggs cited a desire to be closer to home where he grew up and a desire to let the Ravens young edge rushers at the time get a chance to blossom out of his shadow as the reasons he opted not to run it back for year 17.
However, during a recent interview with WJZ’s Rick Ritter which took place at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, he revealed the real reason for not returning to the franchise that remains near and dear to his heart. Sadly, it had nothing to do with football or being homesick for half the year as he is a native of the Grand Canyon State.
Terrell Suggs on why he left #Ravens in 2019:— Rick Ritter (@RickRitterWJZ) October 10, 2023
"It wasn't the way I wanted it to end. I'll tell you all this now, my mom was terminally ill. Nobody knows that. She was in her final stages & I couldn't be in both places at once."
More from our exclusive with T-Sizzle only on @WJZ pic.twitter.com/jhLh5hU1gw
“I’ll tell you all now because it’s been enough time,” Suggs said. “My mom was terminally ill. No one knows this, we’re a pretty private family. She was pretty much in her final stages and I couldn’t be in both places at once, both Arizona and Baltimore. I couldn’t look after her and train, work out, and go back to Baltimore. I just couldn’t do both. I was going to sign back and I decided at the last minute I can’t, I couldn’t. If something happened to my mom while I was gone, I would’ve never forgiven myself.”
Ravens Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome, who had drafted Suggs No. 10 overall out of Arizona State University in 2003 when he was the team’s general manager, reached out to him in utter disbelief about his decision not to re-sign.
“Ozzie called me and said, ‘Terrell, what are you doing? Sizzle, your kids live here in Baltimore.’ I said, ‘I know, Oz, but it’s just something I have to do.’ So, I came home to kind of take care of my mom,” Suggs said. “She ended up passing the next year, but we did have that last year together. She got to see some of my Cardinals games here and that time with her was special. At the end of the day, it wasn’t how I wanted it to end. I wanted to be in black and purple forever, but it didn’t happen that way.”
Even though he signed with the Cardinals initially, Suggs and the team mutually agreed to part ways before the end of the season. He would go on to ride off into the sunset as a two-time Super Bowl champion after joining the Kansas City Chiefs shortly following his release.
When asked what he missed most about his time in Charm City, Suggs cited all the love he received from the community.
“I miss the people, miss the tailgating, driving up to stadium, everyone going crazy knowing it’s me,” Suggs said. “They embraced me as one of their own. Sizzle is ours, they said. They’ve been so great to me. They embraced me with love and I’ll always feel that way.”
The recently turned 41-year-old will be inducted in the Ravens Ring of Honor on Oct. 22 when the Ravens host the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 7.
“From the moment I got there, it was just like my life changed, my football career just changed. I played with football Gods. Who can say they played with the best left tackle ever (Jonathan Ogden), the best middle linebacker ever (Ray Lewis), the best strong safety (Ed Reed) together? I was on the team with all of these guys, all of these Hall of Famers.”