Detroit Lions defensive star Ndamukong Suh continues to be one of the most hated players in the NFL. The league holds him to a ridiculous standard and yet now is depending on his services to promote the very league that is against him.
Super Bowl 2013 serves as a testing point once again for interest in American football in China. Suh traveled to Shanghai, where he will attend a viewing party, to watch Super Bowl XLVII. The appearance follows last year’s visits from former NFL greats Tony Dorsett and Barry Sanders. Suh has even been tweeting about his visit and posing pictures of Chinese fans. He started a new hashtag for his visit with #SUHaroundTheWorld.
In 2012, American football was the 20th most popular sport in China, ranking behind ping pong and chess. The NBA has done a good job with partnerships with China, but they also had No. 1 draft pick Yao Ming to help with that. Will Suh’s appearance help gain attention to the sport and bolt it into the top ten?
I have no problem with the NFL trying to gain access to Chinese fans. After all, there are over one billion people in China. My problem lies with Suh agreeing to do this. Is this part of his plan to change his image. I wrote about Suh’s appearance on Celebrity Diving and how I didn’t think it would help him change people’s minds. Suh does get a free vacation to China, but will unfortunately be unfairly punished by the league in the future.