ALLEN PARK, Mich. — One has the reputation as the dirtiest player in the league while the other is possibly the league’s most dangerous.
So it is no surprise that two Detroit Lions topped the first in a series of ESPN.com’s NFL Nation anonymous surveys of more than 320 players, “Who is the most feared player in the NFL?”
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh led all players with 61 votes (19 percent), and wide receiver Calvin Johnson followed with 58 votes. No other player received more than 30 votes, and 48 players had at least one vote.
“If it’s feared from the context of they don’t want to play against me and they are worried about how I may affect the game and affect the offense, it’s definitely appreciated,” Suh told ESPN.com. “It’s definitely seen as a plus and a positive. Guys have respect for you, just like guys have respect for Calvin.
“I’m surprised I edged him out, but hopefully I don’t have to edge him out and we can just be co-winners. I prefer that.”
Suh has spent much of his career trying to overcome his reputation as a dirty player. Johnson, meanwhile, is almost universally praised in the NFL.
If another player says something negative about Johnson, it usually becomes news because of its rarity. What isn’t rare for Johnson? An opponent setting up its game plan to try to stop him.
“I can tell sometimes when they are trying to,” Johnson said, “especially when teams want to bring like one of their linemen or linebackers and put them way outside the numbers to try and get hands on me at the line of scrimmage, when they’ve got a corner out here and a safety over the top.
“So I’m like, ‘Man, let’s run the ball. Shoot, got a favorable box.'”
When Johnson was told he and Suh topped the survey results, Johnson laughed. Then, like Suh, he considered it strong praise.
“Well, the fact that you’re doing something right and that you’re doing it consistently,” Johnson said. “You can’t be inconsistent and teams game plan and scheme for you.
“So I just enjoy the fact that I’m doing it on a consistent basis.”
- Previously covered University of Michigan for ESPN.com and AnnArbor.com
- Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette