Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey ended a rollercoaster season by hitting another upright, and the crossbar, to miss a game-winning kick in an NFC Wild Card game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Parkey struggled with missed kicks, both field goals and extra points, during the regular season. The 26-year-old kicker was in his first season in Chicago after signing a contract with the team during the offseason.
The Bears stuck with Parkey despite his struggles during the season. Fittingly, after all the attention paid to Parkey, Chicago’s season came down to one kick. Trailing 16-15, Parkey stepped up for what would have been a game-winning kick on Sunday. Parkey missed the 43-yard field goal attempt after Eagles coach Doug Pederson called a timeout to “ice” him. The field goal miss left Soldier Field in stunned silence. Parkey was then booed as he ran off the field.
After the game, Parkey told reporters he wanted to go home and see his wife and dog, knowing they don’t care what happened on the field, ESPN’s Dianna Russini reports. Parkey’s teammates showed him support after the tough loss. Parkey told reporters, “You can’t make this up. I feel terrible. I let the team down. That’s on me. I have to own it. I have to be a man. Unfortunately that’s way it went today. That’s one of the worst feelings in the world to let your team down,” according to Josh Frydman. “I’ll continue to put things in perspective, put my best foot forward, sleep at night knowing I did everything in my power this week to go and make that kick and for whatever reason hit the crossbar and the upright and it still couldn’t do it. Yeah I feel terrible.”
Parkey added, “I thought I hit a great ball. Tried to play the wind.”
Here’s what you need to know about Cody Parkey:
1. Cody Parkey Hit 4 Uprights During a November Game Before the ‘Double Doink’ in the Wild Card Game
Cody Parkey hit the field goal uprights an unbelievable five times during the 2018 regular season, including four times in one game. Parkey’s kicks struck the uprights on two field goal attempts and two extra point attempts on November 11, 2018, during a game at the Detroit Lions. The Bears won that game 34-22. Parkey also hit the upright once against the Minnesota Vikings during a Week 17 victory.
Parkey had an up-and-down season with the Bears in 2018. He won the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award after connecting on three field goals in a Week 11 win against the Minnesota Vikings. He finished the regular season hitting 23 of 30 field goals and 42 of 45 extra points. Parkey was 9 for 12 on kicks between 40 to 49 yards.
Bears coach Matt Nagy expressed confidence in Parkey heading into the playoff game against the Eagles.
“He’s a mature individual,” Nagy told reporters. “And he understands. He wants it. If I’m not being hard on him at times, at practice at times or complimenting him at times, then I’m not doing my job. But I don’t overdo it either way. I don’t stay on top of him and just yell at him. And I don’t compliment him all the time. He knows that.”
Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor told NBC Sports ahead of the Wild Card game, “I’m never gonna flinch on him. He’s our guy. I have a lot of confidence in him just because I know what he does, I know how he plays. … I know the regular season wasn’t as consistent as what he wanted. I’ve seen him in other years get to that bar. So I know it’s there. We just gotta help him get there, and I think he will.”
Tabor added, “Oh, I think he’s great (mentally). I really do. He’s the same person — that’s why I have confidence in him. He’s the same guy, whether it’s a make or a miss. And sometimes I’ll say, an NFL kicker if you miss one, what do you do on the next one. NFL kickers aren’t — they’re not going to miss those consistently and like I say, the Detroit game seems like an anomaly to me, but his other misses that he’s had, he always comes back and I expect him to come back this week.”
Parkey was also feeling good headed into the Philadelphia game. After missing the four kicks against the Lions, Parkey began a new routine of practicing at Soldier Field in the runup to games, rather than at the Bears practice facility. He told the Chicago Tribune that helped him turn things around. Before the Eagles game, Parkey told the newspaper, “I’ve got no reason not to be confident. I mean, I am not having the best year of my life, but sometimes you guys act like I am going 20 percent. If you calculate all of my kicks, I am probably at like 87, 88 percent for the year. That’s not as bad as you guys make me out to be.”
2. He Is a Jupiter, Florida, Native & Spent 4 Years at Auburn University Before Going Undrafted in 2014
Cody Parkey is a native of Jupiter, Florida, where he attended Jupiter High School. His parents are Doug Parkey Sr. and Kelly Parkey, and he has two brothers, Doug Jr. and Hunter. He and his brother, Doug, were high school football teammates. “Jupiter is a town where you appreciate what you have. It is a special place with special people. It’s where it all began,” Parkey told InFlorida about his hometown.
After high school, Parkey was the kicker for Auburn University for four years. Parkey connected on 15 of 21 field goals and 66 of 67 extra point attempts during his senior season. He was part of two teams that went to the BCS National Championship game while at Auburn, including the 2010 championship-winning team. Parkey went undrafted in 2014.
“Each step along the way, I’ve set goals for myself. On the days where others don’t want to practice, it motivates me to go out there and try even harder. Once you put that mentality into a routine, you can achieve anything,” Parkey told InFlorida.
3. Parkey Spent Time With the Eagles, Browns & Dolphins Before Signing a 4-Year, $15 Million Contract With the Bears in March 2018
Cody Parkey began his NFL career when he was signed by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2014 draft. Before the start of that season, Parkey was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for running back David Fluellen. Parkey beat out Alex Henery during the preseason and won the starting job. He set an NFL rookie scoring record with 150 points and was named to the Pro Bowl. Parkey was injured during the 2015 season and then cut by the Eagles ahead of the 2016 season.
Parkey spent one season with the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and a season with the Miami Dolphins in 2017. Cody Parkey’s career stats show he has made 99 field goals out of 118 attempts, for an 83.9 success rate. He has also made 149 of 156 extra points. His longest career field goal came from 54 yards.
After a solid season with the Dolphins in 2017, Parkey was signed by the Chicago Bears during the 2018 offseason. Parkey signed a four-year contract worth $15 million. According to SportTrac, the contract includes $9 million in guaranteed money.
Parkey’s regular season struggles had Bears fans concerned about his salary and contract. One fan even started a tongue-in-cheek GoFundMe account to raise money to buyout Parkey’s contract after the November misses. Following the playoff loss, the Bears fan updated the fundraising campaign with a simple message, “I knew this was gonna happen. F*cking knew it.”
4. Cody Parkey & His Wife, Colleen Rick Parkey, Went to High School Together & Began Dating Again After College
Cody Parkey is married to Colleen Rick Parkey. They first started dating while they were sophomores in high school, according to CBS Sports. They then split up when Cody went to play football at Auburn and Colleen went to study at Florida State University. They reunited after college and were engaged in 2016. They were married in 2017 at St. Paul of the Cross Church in Palm Beach Gardens, FLorida.
5. Parkey Has Worked to Encourage Safe Driving After Losing a College Teammate in a Fatal Car Crash
Cody Parkey has worked to raise awareness for the Lutzie 43 Foundation, which works to encourage safe driving, especially among young people. The foundation was started in memory of his college teammate, Philip Lutzenkirchen, who died in a 2014 traffic crash.
According to its website, the foundation “aims to encourage and empower young people to be positive ambassadors for safe driving, carried out through our 43 Key Seconds initiative.” It’s objective “is to inspire young people to make better decisions as drivers and friends, using Philip’s life and legacy to inspire change.” Parkey wore cleats supporting the charity during a 2018 game as part of the “My Cause, My Cleats” program.