NFL News : Key Steeler was lost after 'high school field' conditions.

Key Steeler was lost after 'high school field' conditions.

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Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham never wants to play in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game again.

Suisham suffered a season-ending knee injury last August on the opening kickoff of the second half of Pittsburgh’s preseason opener against Minnesota in Canton, Ohio. Suisham said the cause for his torn anterior cruciate ligament was being forced to play on a “high school field” at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

The facility served as the home field for Canton McKinley High School as well as two Division II universities (Malone and Walsh) through the 2015 season before being closed for a mass renovation that is still ongoing.

“Hopefully with the (players) union and league we can improve what we’re doing and find a way to get better with what we’ve got,” Suisham told co-host Zig Fracassi and me Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Hopefully we can come up with some kind of resolution to avoid that circumstance where guys and coaches alike are put into a difficult situation where you look at the field and it’s awful but what are you going to do?”

Although the NFL and NFL Players Association signed off on the field at Tom Benson Stadium — something that is required before every game — Suisham said the conditions were such that “I don’t think they would have been acceptable for anyone else in the NFL.” The Steelers decided to play anyway with the only other option being a forfeit, which would have embarrassed the NFL considering the Pittsburgh-Minnesota game was the preseason opener for the entire league in prime time.

“Because of the game we were forced into that situation,” Suisham said.

Suisham said he was injured when his kickoff-plant foot stuck in the ground.

“A second before the (Vikings) returner came up on me I felt my knee rip,” Suisham said. “I was like a sitting duck and the guy ran through the side of my head.”
The injury not only cost Suisham the 2015 season. It also might have cost him his job with the Steelers in 2016 because replacement Chris Boswell did so well in his absence. Boswell, 24, is 10 years younger than Suisham and set to earn almost $2 million less next season with a $525,000 base salary.
“First and foremost for me, the focus is entirely on getting healthy,” said Suisham, who still isn’t kicking six months removed from reconstructive surgery. “The next step is obviously to show the team that I’m still the kicker they had prior to my injury.
“Look, I was a Chris Boswell fan this year. I tried to help when needed or asked. I love the Pittsburgh Steelers, therefore I want Chris to do well. He did a very, very good job this year and I was really proud of him. In saying that, I am not suggesting that I’m interested in conceding my position. I think I have a lot to offer.”

Suisham did reference the fact that Boswell kicked in more favorable weather conditions over the course of the season in Pittsburgh than he ever got to enjoy after joining the Steelers in 2010.

“It’s funny how things worked out,” Suisham said. “This is not Chris’ fault at all, but it’s amazing how the weather this year seemed to be the mildest winter on record in my lifetime. I think I would like it if the weather was like that again next year.”

There were a few positives for Suisham while he was rehabilitating last season. He was able to spend more time at home and work toward becoming an American citizen, which is a process the Canadian-born Suisham completed last week in Pittsburgh.

“Professionally speaking, it was a very difficult season for me,” Suisham said. “But outside of that, I got to become a U.S. citizen and had a lot of time for my two little girls and wife. I was able to get my kids ready for school and brush their hair in the morning. That was certainly a silver lining for me.”

Images Courtesy of Keystone Press

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