Bears K Cody Parkey practices at Soldier Field on Wednesday night
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
Cody Parkey made Jimmy Fallon’s monologue on “The Tonight Show” on Monday. Fallon showed the Bears kicker hitting the upright on four kicks against the Lions — two extra-point tries and two field-goal attempts — and joked that doinking balls off the post was much harder to do than making the kicks.
Then, the zinger.
“After the game,” Fallon said, “it took him four tries to get through the locker room door.”
Parkey claimed Wednesday he didn’t see the bit. He has insulated himself, he said, by spending time with his wife, Colleen, and their dog, Marlin, whom they adopted when he kicked for the Eagles.
“They don’t really care if I make field goals or not,” he said. “So I find peace in that. I talk to my family, stuff like that. But I don’t beat myself up, I don’t go on social media, I don’t do any of that. I [couldn’t] care less about what anyone thinks of me other than people in this locker room.”
His actions, though, show this is no ordinary week.
Parkey was scheduled to drive to Soldier Field on Wednesday night, along with punter/holder Pat O’Donnell, snapper Patrick Scales and coordinator Chris Tabor — call them the Upright Citizens Brigade? — to practice under the stadium lights. Parkey hadn’t done that all year, but kicking inside an empty stadium was a trick that former Bears kicker Robbie Gould used to better master Soldier Field’s notorious swirling wind.
“I guess just check all the boxes you can, right?” Parkey said midday Wednesday. “I mean, it can’t hurt.”
Bears coach Matt Nagy says he has no plans to replace Parkey, who got $9 million guaranteed when he signed a four-year, $15 million free-agent deal in March. Leading up to the most important game of the season — a divisional contest against the rival Vikings — the Bears need him at his best.
“We’re going to always do whatever we need to do to make things as good as possible for any player on this team, whatever that is,” Nagy said. “If that’s catching extra passes after practice with the [throwing] machine, or if that’s [Parkey] going down to Soldier Field with those guys and practicing, we’ll do that. It’s important — those guys know that — to try to make the elements of the game as real as possible.”
Parkey tried to downplay what’s at stake against the Vikings.
“Same as last week, same as the week before,” he said. “I just try to go out there and make my kicks.
“This is my fifth season doing this. I’ve had highs. I’ve had lows. So unfortunately, it comes with the territory sometimes. I don’t get down on myself — I know I’m a great kicker. I’m just going to go out there Sunday and try my best.”
If the Bears thought practicing inside Soldier Field was essential to Parkey’s kicking routine, they would have done it before now. The distance and traffic between Halas Hall and Soldier Field makes such trips inconvenient.
“Unfortunately,” Parkey said, “we don’t have a helicopter.”
Wednesday night’s field trip, then, might be more mental than physical. Scales said the Ravens had him practice in their empty stadium the week of his first NFL game.
“You put yourself in the situation, which is good,” Scales said. “The same line of sight. The feel of it. Being in there. The wind, the temperature — it all kind of plays in.”
Like Parkey said, it can’t hurt.
“You could give him 100 more kicks and he wouldn’t hit [the upright] four times,” said Scales who, like other Bears players, has rallied around Parkey. “It’s a few inches [closer] and he’s 4-for-4 and no one’s talking about it.”
Except everyone is.
“It’s easy to root for me when I’m doing well, but it’s harder when I’m not,” Parkey said. “So you find out who really cares about you.”