The NFL is a tough place, and not just on Sundays. Some say that those letters actually stand for Not For Long! Or, to put it in other words, “What have you done for me lately?”
A year ago, placekicker Jeff Reed was coming off a Super Bowl victory. He was known as Mr. Reliable and the only human being on earth who could kick in swirling Heinz Field. He was given a “franchise tag,” meaning he could not become a free agent and the team would have to pay him the average of the top five salaries of NFL kickers.
Did he have tendency to get drunk and make a fool out of himself with every variety of slutty party girl? Sure.
Did he get up in the grill of a Pittsburgh cop who took exception when a teammate decided to use Rooney Drive as a urinal? Sure.
Has he had a tendency to go 15 rounds with a Sheetz paper towel dispenser? Perhaps.
Does he look a little too much like a glue-sniffing Lloyd Bridges from the classic movie Airplane? Of course.
O how the mighty have fallen. Miss a couple of easy field goals… blame the grass… blame the media… blame the fans… and before you know it, your boss has grown tired of your act.
The Steelers seem to have decided that the solution to the team’s problems is to be found on couches around the country, or that exclusive community also known as unemployed NFL kickers. Good thing today is the Steelers’ off day. But I sure hope that Reed doesn’t drop by the team’s facility for a little extra practice ’cause things could get awkward. He might accidentally run into his potential replacement, Shaun Suisham.
Shaun Suisham was actually a practice squad kicker for the Steelers in 2005. Since then, he’s been with the Cowboys, 49ers, Redskins, Cowboys, Browns, and Rams. I know, I know… one might say that he’s been around more than some of Jeff Reed’s… never mind. But according to the Post-Gazette, he’ll be on the South Side today for an audition.
His resume isn’t all bad, too. The guy’s from Ontario, Canada, so, a little nippy weather probably won’t phase him. He matriculated at Bowling Green. Whatever. He’s 85 for 107 in NFL field goals. That’s 79.4 percent. Not Hall of Fame-worthy, but remember, we’re limited to looking for unemployed kickers listed on Monster.com here. His longest kick is 52 yards (twice).
If a switch is made this afternoon, a part of me will be a little sad. Jeff Reed is a bit like that idiot friend you had in high school. That guy who had no governor on his mouth and was completely uninhibited. Never unwilling to act the fool for a laugh. You couldn’t take him anywhere, but he was always able to entertain. He was an idiot, but he was your idiot. Besides, if you and your friends didn’t take him in, where was he going to go? In Jeff’s case, he’ll probably catch on somewhere else. There’s always a kicker somewhere who is about to lose his job or who has pulled a groin. There will be teams who won’t be able to resist signing a replacement with a couple of Super Bowl rings. I mean if Shaun Suisham has been on six teams, surely Reed can find one more.
Now, Steelers. How about that pass rush and blocking thing? As I said last week, though, it’s a long season. But unfortunately, guys on the IR don’t come back until next year. And the list of unemployed linemen is not nearly as impressive.