Dallas Cowboys Take Janet Jackson Approach with Nick Folk

Richard ZowieCorrespondent IDecember 25, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 13:  Kicker Nick Folk #6 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after missing a field goal against the San Diego Chargers at Cowboys Stadium on December 13, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

You know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

Years and years ago, back in the decade of Big Hair and Parachute Pants, Janet Jackson had a huge hit with "What Have You Done For Me Lately?"

That's the reason why the Dallas Cowboys are no longer the employer for placekicker Nick Folk.

Yes, that same Folk who earned his spot in Cowboys lore in recent years when he kicked back-to-back 50-plus yard field goals against the Buffalo Bills when the Bills had called timeout right before his first attempt. That same Folk who seemed so trustworthy and so accurate. That same Folk who could practically kick field goals blindfolded and with one leg tied behind his back.

And now, Folk is no longer with the Dallas Cowboys. As you can see from the photo, Folk has unfastened his chinstrap for the final time.

Just as Ms. Jackson sang in her song, NFL owners and coaches tend to have extremely short memories when it comes to place kickers. Spend five years developing a rep as a great player, and all it takes are a handful of games where you develop the placekicker's equivalent of the Steve Blass Disease*, and they're auditioning other kickers to come in.

It got to where Folk looked pretty bad in pre-game warmups against the New Orleans Saints and then clanked a chip-shot field goal.

Granted, Folk's performance might be hindered by the lingering effects of offseason hip surgery, but his sudden inability to be consistent on field goals is indeed a mystery.

Now, after Dallas saw that kickoff specialist David Buehler lacks the accuracy to become the team's placekicker, it has turned to Shaun Suisham to kick its field goals. Suisham had been with the team from 2005-2006 and has a 79.4 percent career percentage.

What does Folk teach other placekickers? A few lessons:

1. No matter how promising things look and how successful they are, a placekicker should never buy a home in the city they work in. Inevitably, they'll have to call a Realtor and put the home up for sale if and when the time comes when they are cut. "Rent, rent, rent" replaces "Location, location, location."

2. When renting an apartment or home, make sure your landlord gives you a clause allowing you to vacate early if you have to.

3. It doesn't matter if you nail a game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl or if you set the NFL all-time record for longest field goal. All it takes are a few misses and they'll send you packing.

4. Play every game like it's preseason and you're battling against another place kicker for the job.

I keep thinking Suisham's that Cowboys placekicker who used to point at the goalposts before kicking. Maybe I'm confusing him with someone else. I also wonder if maybe Dallas will surprise us and re-acquire Mike Vanderjagt or Martin Grammatica.

Best of luck, Nick.

*Steve Blass was that star Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher in the 1960s who went from an 18-game winner and a 2.12 ERA in 1968 and a 1971 World Series success with two complete games and two runs allowed in 18 innings to a pitcher who couldn't find the plate. Following an explosion in walks allowed and an ERA, he never regained his form.

Richard Zowie is a Bleacher Report blogger and a longtime Dallas Cowboys fan. Send comments below or, for a personal response, e-mail richardzowie@gmail.com .