ESPN asked 320 players in a poll which player is most feared in the NFL, and the results came back overwhelmingly Lions. The leading vote-getter was Suh, who came in with 61 votes, which barely edged Johnson, who came in with 58. The only other player from the NFC North who showed up on the list was Adrian Peterson, who collected 16 total votes.
Obviously, both of Detroit's players were named as feared for opposite reasons. Johnson has been an elite receiver for years, shattering records and remaining imposing even in the wake of several injuries, most of which would have crippled other players. He's the best receiver in football, and can change games with one explosive play.
Suh, on the other hand, is physically imposing on the defensive line and has a reputation as a bad-boy given he's collected eight fines over his career and was fined a total of $139,375 last season alone. Players probably fear what Suh will do next, provided he's shown a rogue side with regards to play beyond the whistle, so it certainly makes sense that he would also find the top of this leader board.
As ESPN's Ashley Fox wrote in the piece, the story within this story is more about how the Lions collapsed down the stretch and failed to win with two of the most feared players in football on the roster. It's no doubt that Detroit has some talent on both sides of the ball to fear with Johnson, Suh, Nick Fairley, Matthew Stafford and even players such as Reggie Bush and DeAndre Levy, but until the team is able to find the right leader to stir the drink, they'll remain a rudderless ship of disappointment and failed expectations.
Considering Suh is 27 and Johnson is 28, chances are, opponents will have to remain afraid on the field for at least the next several years or more. Whether or not Detroit ever is able to put things together and win consistently remains to be seen, but the Lions would figure to want to keep both of their imposing forces around to see what happens with regards to team success throughout the next decade. Banking on their talent shining through with wins sooner than later might be a good bet.
In the meantime, when it comes to the individual talent and personality of both Johnson and Suh, remain afraid. Remain very afraid.
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