Cody Parkey didn’t get it done against Eagles, but he wasn’t alone in that regard
By Jason Maholy
Teams win games and teams lose games. It is rare that a single player or specific play determines the final outcome of any team game or match, because over the course of the contest any number of plays impact – to varying degrees – the course of actions that follow.
Players make plays or don’t make plays, and every play – whether it occurs at a seemingly innocuous moment of the game or at what we would consider a high-leverage situation – matters.
Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey made three field goals in Sunday’s Wild Card round playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles, accounting for nine of the Bears’ 15 points in a 16-15 season-ending loss. But the one field goal attempt he missed came at what is according to the laws of the sports universe the most crucial moment of the game.
With the final seconds ticking off the clock, Parkey’s boot from 43 yards out clanked the left upright – then in almost comically tragic fashion struck the crossbar – and caromed back into the field of play. In a blink, the Bears went from a team that brought the roar back to the Chicago lakefront to postseason also-rans dreaming of next season.
A matter of inches, maybe less, is the difference between Parkey being hailed as a Chicago hero or reviled as a Chicago goat. Well, by some people anyway, but that’s another topic.
The point I had started to make five paragraphs ago is that Cody Parkey isn’t the reason the Bears lost the first postseason game they played in since 2010.
Mitchell Trubisky, who still has a long way to go before he proves his worth as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, played a solid first playoff game but was not great. The coaching staff’s call on a two-point conversion attempt that would have given the Bears a seven-point lead was an odd choice. And the league’s top defense allowed Nick Foles and the Philly offense to convert a first down on third-and-nine, and touchdown on fourth-and-two, on what proved to be the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.
There were plays to be made. Cody Parkey was just one guy who failed to make a play when it mattered most.
Parkey seemed to have a good grasp on the matter after the game. During his post-game interview, he was honest about his feeling the loss will sting for a few days, and was accountable and didn’t shy away from any questions.
But the comment that best indicated he has clarity on the situation is that he’ll go home and talk to his wife and his dog, neither of who care that he missed a field goal that would have won an NFL playoff game. There is real maturity in that statement, and we should all appreciate his perspective and maybe even learn something from it.
The lesson? Sports don’t matter. Or, more accurately, the results of a sporting contest don’t matter.
A winning team brings pride to a city and fan base, can bring a community together and makes for the glorious moments we’ve experienced via our city’s sports championships — I get all that. I also understand winning and losing can mean the difference between having a job and being fired – whether coach, player, administrator or even the employees no one knows exist – but those are the consequences of working in the sports industry, and the people in the industry make the choice to be there. (For the record, while I can empathize for anyone who gets fired — and will never be one of these savages who advocates for or demands someone lose his job — I will never feel sorry for players or coaches being shown the door.)
When it comes to those of us outside the inner circle of athletics, the result of a sporting event is truly meaningless. Happiness, contentment and satisfaction with one’s life are not determined by whether a team wins or loses. The lives of Bears fans were after the loss to Philly no different than they were before the game, and wouldn’t be any different had the Bears won. You still have life, you still have love and you still have your hopes, dreams and plans to go on vacation this year.
Take a walk around downtown Chicago. Life can be a lot worse than your favorite team losing a football game.
Cody Parkey, Goat of the Moment, will likely never be a great NFL kicker and has almost no chance of being with the Bears next season, but he seems to be at peace with that. And that’s okay.