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Ravens’ Suggs takes movies almost as seriously as football

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Before Terrell Suggs steps foot on a football field on Sundays, there are two movie scenes he has to watch to get him pumped up for the occasion.

The first is Tony D'Amato's "inch by inch" speech in "Any Given Sunday," during which Al Pacino's character, a football coach, offers one last motivational speech during his team's championship game.

The second is the president's address in the 1998 film "Armageddon," which is given to the world as a group of astronauts prepare to destroy an asteroid from ending civilization on Earth.

The motivation has worked for Suggs this season, to the tune of 14 sacks and seven forced fumbles. He's been a mainstay in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year after arguably putting in the best regular season of his nine-year career.

But it's not just for motivation's sake that Suggs watches these scenes before games.

He's as passionate a film fanatic as there is. Before facing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9 of the NFL season, Suggs offered the line, "They already declared war on us. We're taking 53 men to the apocalypse and we ain't bringing flowers."

The quote drew some laughs from reporters, as if it was Suggs — normally a jokester in the locker room — just being Suggs. Not quite. Suggs was actually referencing a line from the 2005 movie "The Jacket," starring Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley.

Prior to visiting Cincinnati in the final week of the regular season, Suggs spoke fondly of the orange "Star Wars" storm trooper that parades in the stands of Paul Brown Stadium each week. Suggs, a huge "Star Wars" fan, then compared himself to the series' evil villain.

"All we need is [Darth] Vader and we should have everything we need," Suggs said before Baltimore's 24-16 win over Cincinnati.

Sitting in his locker room at the Ravens' team facility is a flat-screen television that just fits within the space allotted to him. Frequently a movie's on, ranging from comedies such as "Team America" to action flicks like "Black Hawk Down."

Two recent movies he says have blown his mind are "Black Swan" and "Inception," films he'll make time to watch if they're scheduled to play on a movie channel.

His love for movies began at an early age, when Suggs, his father and his brothers would regularly watch films together, whether at the theater or in the comfortable confines of their home.

Over time, Suggs began watching films with a more careful and critical eye, studying them and wondering how certain shots were filmed and how certain ideas were created.

"Sometimes I'll watch a movie and I'll wonder how long it took them to get that shot, or how many takes it took," Suggs said. "Or the camera, where did they set the camera or how did they light that?

After Baltimore ended the 2008 season with a loss to Pittsburgh in the AFC championship, Suggs was injured and couldn't begin training right away. At the advice of his personal assistant, he started his own film company, which he called Team Sizzle Worldwide, dubbed after his nickname, "Sizzle." Suggs has shot four short films since, and a feature film, "The Coalition," is in post-production.

One of his short films, "When Beautiful People Do Ugly Things," was screened at the Cannes Film Festival last May. Another one of his short films, "Sisters," was screened at the American Black Film Festival in June 2010.

Suggs usually has a movie he's waiting to watch at his locker room, and this week it's "Cowboys & Aliens."

"He's always got movies playing, he's a big movie guy," said right guard Marshal Yanda, who sits just a few lockers down from Suggs.

None of his teammates has been involved with Team Sizzle Worldwide, though Suggs jokingly said he's hoping to get defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and safety Tom Zbikowski in front of the camera to cure their shyness.

In the locker room, he acts as an entertainer, sometimes telling jokes that center Matt Birk deemed not fit for print.

"He'll do things that make you laugh so hard your side will hurt," Birk said. "That's definitely appreciated during a long season."

Though he made a cameo in the FX television series "The League" in 2010, Suggs doesn't have any plans to delve into acting anytime soon. He prefers the behind-the-scenes work of writing and creating ideas.

That said, Suggs acknowledged acting is an avenue he may pursue when his playing days are over and he has the time to work on the craft.

"Actors and actresses, they're professionals," Suggs said. "It's just like not anybody can just line up and play football. Not everybody can line up and act in front of a camera."

For now, Team Sizzle Worldwide is on hiatus as the Ravens continue their quest for a Super Bowl title. After winning the AFC North with a 12-4 record that earned Baltimore a first-round bye last week, the Ravens will host the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

Suggs said he'll get back to filmmaking when the season ends. Though it's just a side project for now, it's apparent he takes his film work as seriously as he does his football career.

"I plan to have a major, full-fledged film company," Suggs said. "That's what I started it for. I want to eventually be nominated for an Academy Award — I want to eventually win an Academy Award. I'm naturally competitive. Anything I do, I'm going to aim to be the best at it."

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