Athletes go to work under a thin microscope that most of us don’t experience when working our day-to-day jobs. Not only do athletes have to go to work to impress their team ownership/management, they have to answer to the media and put up with opinionated fans.
What happened to Cody Parkey at the end of the Chicago Bears versus Philadelphia Eagles NFL playoff game on Sunday is a prime example of that thin microscope. Parkey, with the game on the line needed to make a 43 yard field goal to give the Bears a two point advantage and probably the win. He made it, but the Eagles called a timeout right before the snap so he had to do it all over again. The second time, he missed.
This was the first time the Bears had made the playoffs since 2010 and had finished last in their division for four consecutive seasons, so it makes sense the fans wanted a playoff win badly and were tired of the many years of losing. However, it doesn’t make it right to ask for Parkey to be fired or threaten him, his family or anything like that.
We’ve seen it before when an athlete misses a shot or makes a mistake that costs a team the game, and the fans overreact. First off, it’s a sport. Secondly, had the rest of the team played better Parkey isn’t put in that situation. Thirdly, it’s a sport – one little bounce, deflection or call could have changed the game.
The Bears offense failed to score on a handful of possessions, three of which led to made field goals by Parkey. He’s the main reason the Bears were even in the game.
Sure, the 26-year-old kickers’ lone job is to kick the ball between the uprights and above the crossbar. Sounds easy, but it isn’t. Not in that situation, in that atmosphere, with the game on the line for a franchise that has had dark clouds hovering over it for years.
Out of the 14 kickers in the NFL this season to attempt 30 or more field goals, Parkey had the worst completion percentage at 77 per cent. He hasn’t been great at his job. It’s fair to be upset at his season struggles and inabilities leading up to the final kick of Sunday’s game, but it isn’t fair to blame him for the loss or send disgusting messages his way.
We’ve all messed up at our jobs, but we aren’t doing our jobs on national TV in front of millions in a loud stadium.
I do have one request for the NFL: remove icing a kicker from the game. Opposing teams calling a timeout seconds prior to a field goal attempt to cool down a kicker takes away from the excitement of the game and the spirit of sports. It’s time penalize a team that calls a timeout ahead of a field goal, especially late in a game.
For Parkey and his missed field goal, my last thought is this: the ball was tipped by a defender.