Somewhere, perhaps in Dallas, Irving, Fort Worth, Arlington, or in my hometown of Beeville, Texas (90 miles southeast of San Antonio on Highway 181 for non-Texans), there are probably diehard Dallas Cowboy fans lining up in eager anticipation to purchase No. 4 jerseys.
No, Brett Favre's not joining the 'Boys. Instead, the number four is the new jersey number of the Cowboys' newest player, Shaun Suisham.
Yes, that same Shaun Suisham who was with the Cowboys from 2005-2006 and has also been with the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers (or the Stealers and the 40-Whiners, as I like to jokingly call them, being a longtime Dallas fan).
Suisham replaced Nick Folk, who went to the 2007 Pro Bowl in his rookie season. Folk seemed like the savior for Dallas, but after hip surgery and missing 10 field goals this season, the Nick-meister proved one thing: NFL teams tend to change place kickers as often as Paris Hilton changes boyfriends.
Folk, this season, had a field goal percentage of 64.3 percent, a sharp decline from hitting 83.9 in 2007 and 90.9 in 2008. Was his off-season hip surgery the cause?
According to Tom Orsborn, who covers the Dallas Cowboys for the San Antonio Express-News , both Folk and head coach Wade Phillips have insisted all season that Folk's hip wasn't an issue. Because of this, the team would've been unable to place Folk on injured reserve (apparently, the NFL doesn't allow teams to do this for fear a team is trying to protect a player for future use rather than allow other teams a chance to use him).
Orsborn added this as the reason the team cut Folk: "Every kick with him was an adventure, including the chip shots."
While Folk may have healed from the surgery, is it possible there was a psychological effect? Yes. Some athletes get an operation on their livelihood and it creates mind games that they can never seem to win.
Be that as it may, don't look at Suisham to be the next Rafael Septien, as in a kicker who stays with Dallas for a very long time. Suisham's career percentage is 79.6, which, while far better than what I could do, hasn't been good enough to make Suisham more than a journeyman kicker. What is interesting though is that Mr. Clutch himself, Adam Vinatieri, has a career percentage of 82 percent.
Unless Suisham (whose surname I don't have a clue how to pronounce) goes on an amazing streak and starts making Vinatieri look like Garo Yapremian trying to throw the ball after a blocked field goal, Dallas will no doubt upgrade at placekicker this offseason.
Among the possibilities:
Dallas re-signs Folk in the off-season . Orsborn tells me he wouldn't be surprised if Dallas does this. I see it as a long shot. Chances are some team will look at the success Folk had and may sign him and invite him to training camp. Perhaps Dallas could quell this and say that like Terrell Owens, Folk is a locker room cancer. Or that Folk steals lollipops from children and makes babies cry.
If that doesn't work, they could say that Folk has an annoying habit of taking wet towels in the shower, making rat tails, and giving teammates welts on their derrieres.
Dallas hands the kicking duties to David Buehler . This is a long shot. For one, Buehler may have a powerful leg, but accuracy has never been his strong suit. If it were, Dallas would've simply made him the kicker instead of bringing in Suisham.
Buehler sounds to me like the Andre Ware of kickers—someone with a great leg (arm) but with terrible accuracy. One sports colleague up here swears that Ware once threw a pass 100 yards at a Detroit Lions practice. I understand that when Dallas gave Buehler a chance to earn the job recently, he gave them nothing to show he could do it.
Dallas looks for another kicker in free agency . Very possible.
Dallas drafts another place kicker . Again, possible.
Hire Doug Blevins to come in as a consultant . Blevins , who helped to turn Vinatieri into one of the game's great clutch kickers, perhaps could help Dallas to solve their woes. And heck, Blevins grew up as a Cowboys fan, so that's an advantage the team would have in trying to hire him.
Finally, two words: time machine . Fire up the flux capacitor and travel back in time to kidnap Morton Andersen in his prime and bring him here.
Richard Zowie is a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan and believes Dallas will defeat the Philadelphia Chickens this Sunday. Post comments below or e-mail Richard directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .