One of the 'Boys

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

Shaun Suisham didn't expect anyone in the NFL to hand him a job on a golden tee.

So when the kicker from Wallaceburg, Ont. was released from the Dallas Cowboys practice roster for the second time a couple of weeks back, he didn't go anywhere.

He kept his room at the Budget Suites Hotel in Irving, Tex. He kept his football and practice tee. And every other day or so he went down to the corner park and kicked field goals.

Patience and belief in himself paid off for the rookie who will make his NFL debut tomorrow when the Cowboys play host to the Arizona Cardinals.

"I've been hoping to get a phone call and thankfully I did," Suisham said this week in a telephone interview. "I'd say I'm more excited than surprised though."

A former Junior C hockey player, Suisham played high school football in Wallaceburg as an aside.

But when he booted 58- and 57-yard field goals in his senior year, suddenly he saw opportunity. Helped by his mother, who flooded the mail with tapes of the feats, Suisham was on the recruiting radar for U.S. colleges.

He eventually settled on Bowling Green State University in Ohio where he played for four years.

Suisham was steady enough in college to earn a tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers this past summer. While he didn't make the roster, he did boot a 46-yard field goal in a pre-season game which caught the eye of the Cowboys.

"For a team to have confidence in me as a rookie is a great compliment," Suisham said. "It has been an exciting time but part of the whole process for me has been trying to keep an even keel. I can't let the highs get too high or the lows get to low."

Suisham will have some special rooting interests when he makes his debut at Texas Stadium. Before he was released three weeks ago, his parents booked a trip to Dallas. Little did they know the bumpy ride that would happen in the interim.

"It's going to be quite a trip," Rick Suisham said. "Shaun has worked hard for this. He never gave up."

Dallas coach Bill Parcells raised a few eyebrows when he turned to Suisham after cutting veteran Jose Cortez on Monday. But rather than turn to a veteran free agent, Parcells trusted his instincts and what his coaches had seen of Suisham in practice.

"We've been looking at this player for quite a while," Parcells told reporters in Dallas (though he referred to him as "Scott" Suisham in his first news conference. "We kind of liked what we saw."

So how does Suisham feel about playing for Parcells, a ruthless and demanding taskmaster? Suisham's answer speaks volumes about his composure and what may ultimately lead to his staying in the league.

"I know what he expects from me and I expect that from myself as well," He said. "I assume we'll have a good relationship as long as I perform at an elite level.

"He's an intense coach, that's what has made him great over the years. It's understood that I have to perform at this level to stick around. That's just how it is in the NFL and I'm okay with that."

That disposition may come in handy when the game is on the line in football-crazy Dallas. Suisham said he never let himself get down about not being drafted or get bounced up and down from the Cowboys practice roster.

"Being a rookie kicker, I knew it was going to take some time before I got my chance," Suisham said. "So far, everything has worked out perfectly.

"I'm flattered by everything that has happened so far. Now it's time to get down to business."


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