Bears kicker Cody Parkey went on Today this morning to talk about his (slightly tipped) field goal miss that ended Chicago’s season. As with the game’s immediate aftermath, Parkey said the kind of things people are generally interested in hearing when an athlete comes up short on the field.
“As a kicker, you live for those moments – I had a lot of confidence going into that kick…I’m disappointed.” @ChicagoBears kicker @CParkey36 on last Sunday night’s field goal that would’ve sent his team to the next playoff round pic.twitter.com/SEV87eKgs7
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 11, 2019
Indeed, the Today appearance was driven by Parkey’s response after the game, and the way most of his teammates supported him publicly. Parkey definitely deserves some credit for saying the right thing, but there’s one important thing he should also get credit for: not being good this year. This wasn’t Gary Anderson in the 1998 NFC Championship game, missing his first kick in two years at the worst possible time.
Parkey is essentially getting the redemption tour we usually reserve for good players who come up short in big moments, and even then the media tends to be pretty selective. Parkey, meanwhile, was bad from preseason on in Chicago.
This is from October. He missed four preseason kicks. A game winner in Miami. Four misses against Detroit. His contract only thing that kept him around. https://t.co/Ye8qxspucm
— Blake Van Poucke (@SoldierFieldBlg) January 11, 2019
Parkey’s low-point of the season was obviously the November 11th game in which he hit four uprights in a Bears win over the Lions. That led to a week of madness in which the biggest Chicago sports story was Parkey deciding to actually practice kicking at Soldier Field to simulate game conditions, news helicopters getting footage, and the Bears forcing networks not to air it. Somehow lost in that shuffle was the idea that maybe, for a team with playoff goals, paying a bad kicker a ton of money to do things like hit four uprights in one game isn’t the best idea.
I think that should just about do it for Parkey, who is charitably a replacement level kicker being paid like one of the best in the league for some reason.
— Jay Rigdon (@jayrigdon5) November 11, 2018
That’s what this Cody Parkey media tour seems to be missing. Parkey went 23-30 on the season, an accuracy percentage that put him 30th out of 35 kickers. (Only two full-time kickers, Dan Bailey and Chris Boswell, were worse.) Parkey made just one field goal from 50+ yards this season, in an era when long-range kicking is a viable weapon; the league leaders made six from that range, and 46-year-old Adam Vinatieri made four.
This isn’t even a case of a down year; Parkey hasn’t been in the league that long, and while his accuracy percentage last season was certainly higher (he went 21-23 in Miami), Parkey only made one 50+yard kick in 2017, and only attempted nine total kicks from 40+ yards. The Bears handed him a four-year, $15 million contract (with $9 million in guarantees), saw him have a bad year, stuck with him, and were rewarded with a season-ending double-doink.
Obviously, Parkey tries and cares. As do all professional athletes; you can’t get to that level without caring. But the whole media blitz is a lot for a professional kicker who can’t kick.