Parkey’s blocked kick tough to watch

Cody Parkey’s blocked field goal for Bears a kick in the gut for Val­paraiso grad Ficken

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - Front Page - mhut­[email protected] Twit­ter @MikeHut­tonPT

Val­paraiso grad­u­ate Sam Ficken could re­late to Bears kicker Cody Parkey in an un­com­fort­able way. Ficken, a for­mer Penn State kicker, once missed four field goals and an ex­tra-point at­tempt in a 17-16 loss to Vir­ginia.

Sam Ficken, a Bears fan, was watch­ing last Sun­day when Cody Parkey car­omed a kick off the up­rights against the Philadel­phia Ea­gles in the fi­nal sec­onds of the NFC wild-card play­off game.

The 43-yard field goal would have been the win­ner in a 16-15 loss. In­stead, the blocked kick will be a gen­er­a­tional foot­note for Bears fans.

Some will never for­give Parkey.

Ficken, a 2010 Val­paraiso grad­u­ate, could re­late in an un­com­fort­able way.

The for­mer Penn State kicker once missed four field goals and an ex­tra point in a 17-16 loss to Vir­ginia.

He knew as soon as he saw Parkey’s kick bounce back­ward it was go­ing to get ugly.

“I just re­ally felt for him,” Ficken said. “I’ve had my share of strug­gles. You just never want to see a guy go through that. It’s un­for­tu­nate.”

Parkey was vil­i­fied on so­cial me­dia. Ev­ery Bears fan has an opin­ion, and the pre­vail­ing sen­ti­ment is the team should cut him.

Ficken has no thoughts on Parkey’s fu­ture, but he knows this.

When he missed four field goals and an ex­tra point, and when he came home to his phone buzzing from Twit­ter no­ti­fi­ca­tions, he got bet­ter.

The aw­ful day helped Ficken get off the mat.

“I’m not one to get into sports psy­chol­ogy,” he said. “It is mo­ti­vat­ing when ev­ery ding on your phone is some­one tweet­ing some­thing (neg­a­tive) at you.

“I un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion. You are ex­pected to per­form at a high level. It’s frus­trat­ing for the fans and the team.”

Has Parkey per­formed to a high level?

Over his ca­reer, he ac­tu­ally has.

Parkey has made 83.9 per­cent of his field goals in five NFL sea­sons. There’s enough of a sam­ple size to es­tab­lish Parkey as a good kicker. It’s why the Bears signed him to a four-year, $15-mil­lion con­tract.

That’s bet­ter than Se­bas­tian Janikowski’s 80 per­cent and below Rob­bie Gould’s 87.3 per­cent.

This was not a good sea­son for Parkey, who made 23 of 30 field goals for 76.7 per­cent.

But it shouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily be a deal breaker. It’s worth point­ing out he made three field goals against the Ea­gles.

Why? Be­cause the ev­i­dence sug­gests Parkey will re­bound next sea­son. If not in Chicago, then some­where else.

As Ficken pointed out, proven kick­ers, par­tic­u­larly those in their prime, gen­er­ally won’t have two bad sea­sons in a row.

If they do, find­ing work will be an is­sue.

Gould, the gold stan­dard for field-goal kick­ers in Chicago, had two sea­sons below 80 per­cent. One came in 2005, when he made 77.8 per­cent and the other was in 2014 when he made just 9 of 12 for 75 per­cent.

“I think es­tab­lished kick­ers get the ben­e­fit of the doubt,” Ficken said.

Ficken, who just moved back to Val­paraiso, is still try­ing to make it in the NFL.

He has been signed and then cut or waived by three NFL teams. He was on the Los An­gels Rams ros­ter for two games this sea­son, but he was cut after he made just 1 of 3 field goals.

The truth is, while Parkey is no Gould, his cre­den­tials are good enough for him to re­turn in 2019.

Any­one that sug­gests Parkey will be scarred for life be­cause of that miss doesn’t un­der­stand the kick­ing game.

They get paid to en­dure the agony of those misses — to come back and try again.

It’s what they do.

“There is no one that feels worse than the kicker after a miss like that,” Ficken said. “It’s part of the job. It’s what you sign up to do. The highs are very high and the lows can be crappy.”



Rams kicker Sam Ficken at­tempts a field goal against the Ti­tans in 2017. He was cut after he made just 1 of 3 field goals.

Mike Hut­ton

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