18 Wallaceburg Courier Press * Thursday, December 13, 2012
Place kicker Shaun Suisham of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after kicking the game-winning fi eld goal as time expired in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 2 in Baltimore. The Pittsburgh Steelers won, 23-20.
Suisham is the pride of Wallaceburg
Mike Zeisberger QMI Agency Credit the spry right toe of Canadian placekicker Shaun Suisham for helping to seal the deal on saving the Pittsburgh Steelers season. With the rabid purpleclad throng at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium barking obscene suggestions as to where he might shove his cursed Steeltown cleats a couple of Sundays ago, Suisham calmly put the boots to his 71,000 hecklers by kicking them where it hurt the most--right between the goal posts. Suisham's 42-yard field goal gave the undermanned Steelers an improbable 23-20 victory over the rival Baltimore Ravens, a huge win that even had the normallystoic Steelers placekicker pumping his fi st. "Personally I try to keep emotion out of it as much as possible," Suisham told the Toronto Sun during a phone interview from Pittsburgh. "At the same time, you certainly understand the importance of that kick." So did those in the NFL offices who, after watching the Wallaceburg, native go three-for-three in field goal attempts, named Suisham the AFC Special Teams player of the week for the second time this season. Even if you are one of those chest-beating testortorone-pumped fans who claim kickers aren't really football players, Suisham's value to the Steelers this season is undeniable. Thanks to Suisham's 42-yard dagger that sliced directly through the hearts of the Ravens, the Steelers upped their record to 7-5 heading into their Week 14 clash against the San Diego Chargers last Sunday. Suisham was one of the few bright spots for the Steelers on Sunday, nailing a 49-yard fi eld goal just before halftime in his only field goal attempt of the day. Th e Steelers lost to the Chargers 34-24. Scheduled to be watching from the stands at Heinz Field will be Rick and Wendy Suisham, Shaun's proud parents who are making the commute down from Southwestern Ontario. Like Rick and Wendy, all of Wallaceburg is busting with pride at the career year being cobbled together by its native son, whose only miss this season came from 54 yards out against the Tennessee Titans. "Should have made it," said Suisham, ever the perfectionist. "I expect to make every one." Aside from that one wart on his resume in Nashville, he pretty much has. With three games remaining in the regular season, Suisham leads the NFL in kicking accuracy, converting 25-of-26 attempts for a 96% success rate. Th ree were game winners, those coming against the Eagles, Chiefs and the Ravens. Where would the Steelers be without the trio of victorious kicks by Th e Golden Toe From Ontario? Coach Mike Tomlin and his players don't even want to think about that, especially since they are still in the thick of the playoff hunt as they welcome back Big Ben. "We believe in ourselves in the room," Suisham said. "Th at's all that matters, "Guys on this team like to compete. In everything. Football. Table tennis. And don't forget shuffleboard. We've got that going on right now." Back in Wallaceburg, folks aren't surprised at Suisham's success. Th e 42-yarder versus Baltimore? No big deal. Heck, they still remember the 58-yarder he nailed back as a 17-year-old that helped his Wallaceburg District Secondary School Tartans win the championship. They remember the football camp he runs in the summer that is free to the local kids. They remember how he went door to door in the community to help raise money for a new score clock for the high school. They remember the sacks of receiver gloves and cleats he collected from NFL teammates that were handed out to needy children. And some even remember how he scooped up a discarded training sled while he was with the Washington Redskins and drove it all the way to Wallaceburg in the back of his pickup truck for players to use at his former high school. Now, with Suisham enjoying a career season, those in his hometown are pumping his tires. The Wallaceburg Lakers, the junior hockey outfit he once played for, is running the Pro Bowl voting link on its website with an accompanying message urging readers to cast a ballot for Suisham. "I didn't know they were doing that," Suisham said after being informed by the Toronto Sun of the gesture. "It's very much appreciated." At the same time, Suisham has a favour he is seeking from the Lakers. Seems they held an alumni game last weekend to celebrate the organization's 40th anniversary. Obviously he couldn't attend. He was too busy helping dispose of the Ravens. "Maybe the next time they have an alumni game, they could have it in February so I can play." After the Pro Bowl. After the Super Bowl. Makes sense. In his perfect world, Th e Golden Toe From Ontario will be booting footballs in both of those.