Hanover Central football coach Brian Parker was on his knees with his hands over the top. His 6-year-old daughter Cecelia was next to him in the same pose.
Like much of Chicagoland last Sunday, the two were in front of the big screen almost praying. Begging. Pleading. That’s the kind of anti-faith that Bears kicker Cody Parkey brought to the masses in blue and orange.
The clankety clank clank of Parkey in the regular season had white knuckles from East Chicago to Wheatfield.
“We were getting ready to celebrate,” Parker said. “But I knew they had another timeout.” Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson called the TO right before the snap and hold and boot right between the pipes. It didn’t count. And when it did matter, the potential game-winning field goal hit the left upright, dropped down and dinged the cross bar.
Eagles 16, Bears 15.
Parkey hits irons better than Phil Mickelson, to our dismay.
“My daughter knew he had missed some field goals during the regular season,” Parker said of Parkey.
Yes, 6-year-olds knew the 43-yarder was a longshot, too. Parkey, who is guaranteed $9 million dollars in his contract, was 23 of 30 on field goals during the regular season and wasn’t a lock on PATs either.
Parker had a similar situation as an assistant coach at Merrillville in 2015. Before long the Pirates were going for 2 after every touchdown. That’s one side of it. This year at sectionals however, Andrean’s J.J. Wadas kicked a 48-yarder against Hanover.nHad Wadas been at Soldier Field instead of Broadway, the Bears would be playing this weekend.
“When you have a kicker like that, it gives you peace of mind,” Parker said. “I can’t see how you can bring (Parkey) back. At that level you have to try to always improve your roster. I don’t see how you can do it.
“He’s out there on an island. All by himself.”Lake Central football coach Tony Bartolomeo didn’t enjoy his Sunday much either.
“I’m a Bears fan and a Sox fan, I know what suffering is all about,” he said.
Like Parker, Bartolomeo agreed the Bears could have won the game in several other ways. Had they played better on offense, defense and special teams, it never would’ve came down to the wobbly toes of Parkey.
“Being a coach it’s hard being critical of a guy who failed,” Bartolomeo said. “On one point I would be the last guy who would say to get rid of Parkey. But I’m a fan, too, and he’s a professional. Everyone wants to make him the goat, and I don’t mean Greatest of All Time. But he hit the goal post twice. That will go down in Chicago lore.”
Parkey was scheduled to be on the Today Show on Friday, while some Bears fans have started a GoFundMe page to try and buy out the rest of Parkey’s contract. Could any of us get paid this much to be so bad?
“It was so exciting to have and watch a home playoff game and then to have it come down to that, it’s heartbreaking,” Bartolomeo said for all of us.
Every high school coach must develop a plan to help teenagers deal with failure. It happens to all of us. But the sophomore DB at Lake Station isn’t guaranteed a thing.
“The Bears handled it, he handled it, there are a lot of teachable moments for kids,” Bartolomeo said. “Learning how to lose is just as important as learning how to win.”
When asked if Parkey should be back next year, there was a long pregnant pause before Bartolomeo spoke.
Clank. Clank. Clank.
“I feel horrible,” Bartolomeo said. “Just like everybody else.”