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.”

BRIAN CAS­SELLA/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

WES­LEY HITT/GETTY

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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