As I watched new Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham kick four field goals–including the overtime game-winner–to beat the Buffalo Bills the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I began to think about their old kicker, Jeff Reed.
Reed, 31, had a long, decorated history with Pittsburgh, but his off-field antics and on-field inconsistency began to take its toll on an organization that prides itself on excellence.
After missing seven field goals already in 2010, Reed was cut by the Steelers in the middle of the season.
When the decline in accuracy is considered along with Reed’s several experiences with the authorities, it seems difficult to imagine that another NFL team would pick him up.
Hopefully, the recently-deposed kicker has some experience in sales, because he’s going to have to sell himself like never before if he sees himself sending footballs flying in the future.
By no means is Reed old, especially in terms of kickers. Morten Andersen kicked for more than 20 years and retired just two years before his 50th birthday. Reed could point to him when telling potential suitors that Father Time is nowhere near slowing him down.
But that doesn’t solve the erratic behavior, which most NFL teams, save perhaps the Bengals and Cowboys, have no tolerance for. If Reed is to sign another pro football contract, he needs to undergo a Ben Roethlisberger-like transformation.
Reed has to convince teams that he’s learned something from his severance with the Steelers. He needs to come down to earth a bit, relax and focus on what pays the bills, football.
Kicking is what Reed’s best at, and if he doesn’t make it a priority once more, he’ll never do it again.
If I were a GM and I saw him making changes in his life, tangible changes, I’d give Reed another chance. But he’d have to sell me first. He’d have to convince me that he’s the same kicker who helped Pittsburgh win two titles, and that he’s a player who could help my team win one.