A week ago, Ndamukong Suh was a sports celebrity. Now he's a national hero as well.
ABC-TV's World News Tonight ended its Friday newscast before an estimated 8.5 million viewers by honoring Suh as its "Person of the Week" - a regular Friday feature that focuses on a person "who has made a profound difference to the world or the country or a community."
World News promotes its "Person of the Week" feature as "extraordinary people doing extraordinary things," and its producers made the decision to honor Suh after hearing his story and watching him prepare for the NFL Draft earlier this week in New York.
World News Tonight Anchor Diane Sawyer introduced Suh as "a man carrying so much hope on his broad shoulders" and called him a Nebraska student-athlete who "decided to give back to his school big time."
Mixing HuskerVision action highlights with Greg Sharpe sound bites, Sawyer said "the incomparably talented Ndamukong Suh" had no contract "but promised when he did, he would give a lot of it back."
Sawyer pointed out that Suh's gift is the largest donation ever from a student-athlete at Nebraska. She also emphasized that Suh's mother, a school teacher from Jamaica, insisted that her son would only be allowed to play football if he was a successful student.
ABC included film of Suh in a cap and gown and getting his diploma at NU graduation ceremonies.
"It's a blessing," Suh told ABC at a New York airport Friday. "You got to be a well-rounded person to be able to be a great student and a great athlete."
Sawyer ended by saying that Suh's next stop is Detroit, a city that has so many problems "that he just wants to be there for any other kid who needs him in that strong-shouldered town."
Suh's announcement to donate $2.6 million to the University of Nebraska last weekend was considered an extraordinary person doing an extraordinary thing, especially because Suh made the pledge without knowing which team would draft him or provide his paycheck.
Everyone from Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne to NU Chancellor Harvey Perlman talked about the historical significance of a 23-year-old recent Nebraska graduate donating $2 million to the Athletic Department and another $600,000 to endow a scholarship in the same School of Engineering he attended.
Nebraska fans from the West Coast to the East Coast sent emails to Huskers.com, expressing their appreciation for Suh's generosity and the overall impact it can have on Nebraska in general and Husker football recruiting in particular.
In a Huskers.com Fan Poll that drew more than 2,500 votes in the days after Suh's announcement, 43 percent of respondents said the thing that struck them most about Suh was his humility. Another 22 percent said it was Suh's desire for NU to be great, and another 20 percent cited his love for Nebraska.