The latest news coming out of the Detroit Lions camp indicates that the sports agency branch of Roc Nation has agreed to represent Pro-Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. This announcement should be troubling to Detroit fans hoping that the franchise will be able to resign Suh after his contract runs out next season.
Roc Nation, LLC began as a record company following Jay-Z’s split from Def Jam Records and Roc-A-Fella Records, Jay’s old label. The young label has signed notable artists like Calvin Harris, Willow Smith and J. Cole. Under the leadership of a veteran of the music industry, the company is in good hands when it comes to managing budding artists. In order to help bridge the learning curve in the sports industry, Creative Artists Agency comes in.
CAA Sports already represents Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Derek Jeter and many other world class athletes.
Prior to expanding the brand to create Roc Nation Sports, Jay-Z has demonstrated a long-term interest in becoming a part of the sports world.
Before selling a portion of his shares to Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter owned a small portion of the team. According to ESPN, he was heavily involved in the rebranding efforts of the team.
Jay-Z’s motivation to sell his shares was to allow him to represent NBA players as their agent. Already, his list of athletes include big names like Robinson Canó, Kevin Durant and Geno Smith. Now adding Suh to the list, Jay’s agency seems to be picking up steam.
In this situation, the focus shouldn’t be on the size of the agency nor on who it represents. The focus should lie on what happens to the players after they sign.
Canó, Roc Nation Sports’ first athlete to sign on famously joined the team back in April of last year. Not long after, he asked for a larger contract from the Yankees. They did not pay and, in December, he left town in favor of a $240 million, 10-year deal in Seattle.
Ronaldo and Beckham are both famous for incredibly high earnings. Bottom line: CAA Sports athletes, and by extension Roc Nation athletes, get paid whether or not it causes them to switch cities. This is great for the athletes as, in many cases, they earn their money. Yet, the fan base is what really could suffer in this situation.
Suh has had an enormous impact on the franchise. Along with teammates Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, he had a major role in taking the team to the playoffs. An ESPN poll of NFL players also ranked him as the NFL’s most feared player. Though he receives scrutiny quite often, he’s almost universally loved by Lions fans for his heart and ability to affect games.
Aside from the fans, there are several reasons why Suh should stay in Detroit at the end of the upcoming season. Between Suh and fellow lineman Nick Fairley the Lions defense gave up the sixth fewest amount of rushing yards in the league last season. With a healthy Ezekiel Ansah on the outside, the Lions can increase pressure substantially and force errors.
With three Pro Bowl appearances under his belt, it is justifiable that the Detroit front office would like to keep Suh around. That said, Suh is not worth bankrupting the team or costing them other valuable players they could sign with Suh’s potential money. He’s an important player with a niche role in the Lions defense, but with all of his baggage he has to be reasonable when negotiating a new deal.
Though Suh worked on cleaning up his act for last season, the first game of the year he still managed to accrue an unprecedented fine. In the past, fans have seen him ejected from games for stomping on opponents and draw other penalties for kicking Matt Schaub in the groin. Whether or not he deserved the fines he received, the penalties still affected the outcome of those games.
As Detroit continues to grow and move forward, they need to maintain a disciplined team. The Jim Schwartz era is over and hopefully the era of an undisciplined defense is out with it. Without that, fans will continue to see the stupid penalties that they’ve seen in the past seasons and frustration will continue to build. Not quite the new look for the franchise after all.
Part of showing discipline is willing to make sacrifices for the team as a whole, whether that be taking extra time to study film or taking a pay cut so the team can afford more talent. By signing with Jay-Z’s agency, Suh has hinted that he’s leaning toward the money. Hopefully he sees the benefit in staying with Detroit. Otherwise, fans should be concerned.
Colin Jackson is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Roc Nation, LLC