Rob Parker: Don't be mad at Suh

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - Calling Ndamukong Suh.

No answer, no problem.

Suh, in the final year of his rookie contract, was a no-show at the Lions' voluntary workouts this week.

Apparently, his teammates and coaches aren't mad.


After all, they are voluntary. Last time we looked that meant you can go if you want to. It wasn't mandatory that Suh showed up to Allen Park.

Some fans on sports-talk radio were upset, though. They thought Suh - who has missed these kinds of workouts in previous off-seasons - should be there, especially since the Lions failed to make the playoffs after a late-season collapse. Plus, the Lions have a new coach, Jim Caldwell. Caldwell, however, didn't make a stink.  

"It certainly didn't blindside," Caldwell said. "We certainly knew."

Caldwell went on to say that he's talked to Suh more than any other player on the team since he got the gig.

Aaron Changed America

Most can't honestly understand what a single home run meant 40 years ago this week.

After all, we have seen so much change since April 8, 1974.

Heck, we even have a sitting, two-term African American president.

If you think that was a pipedream in 1974, the same would was said about a black man having the most home runs in Major League Baseball history.

Not only was it the most prestigious honor in this country, it was something few could believe a black man would have ownership of, especially after being held back from competing until 1947.

First, Jackie Robinson broke down the color barrier. Then, it was Aaron, making the national pastime ours.

Today is the 40th anniversary of Aaron's 715th home run. Aaron's homer off of Dodgers' Al Downing at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium broke Babe Ruth's long-standing record of 714 home runs.

It was a mark most thought would stand forever. After all, to that point, Ruth was considered the best player America had seen.

For Black America, it was a huge sense of pride. It was one of those moments when you knew where you were when you heard Aaron, a black man, was the MLB HR king.

So much so, that even Dusty Baker - who had a very good baseball career himself - calls it his greatest moment in his career.

And Baker was simply in the on-deck circle, watching Aaron hit that homer on that unforgettable night.

"People ask me, 'What was the highlight of your career?' That was it," Baker told the AP recently.

It was such a big deal that not all celebrated. In fact, Aaron was more relieved than happy.

He was put through hell, getting there. Some couldn't stomach the idea of a black man being The Man.

Aaron received racists hate mail and death threats. His college-age kids had security people watching over them during their dad's pursuit of a piece of American history.

Aaron stood brave and prevailed.

Aaron, now 80, has enjoyed that moment more so now than when it was happening. Fans have been kind to Aaron as the years have gone on. "It means an awful lot to me," he said.

The Braves will wear an Aaron 40th anniversary patch on their uniform sleeves this season to mark the historic occasion.

New Football League

We have been told Americans can't get enough football. Well, here's a new football league.

Enter "Rivals Professional Football League."

It's the brainchild of Quentin Hines, a former New England Patriots' running back and grandson of Tigers' great Willie Horton.

There will be four teams, including the Detroit Cougars, according to Hines, the president and CEO.

"I started the Rivals Professional Football League because there is a need for a developmental league to the NFL," Hines said on Friday. "The RPFL is the league of opportunity.

"I don't care where a player last played, the NFL, CFL, D1, D2, D3, their momma's couch. If you can play football, the RPFL is where they will get their shot."

There will be four exhibition games and six regular season games. Games start on May 16th. Teams will have 50 players and players can make up to $7,000 if they reach all bonuses included in their contracts, according to Hines.

There will be tryouts this weekend -Gibraltar Carlson HS on Saturday at 5pm and Mt. Clemens HS on Sunday at 2pm. You must be 18 years old or older.

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