Rozner: Bears will try to quickly forget the Parkey era

 
 
Updated 1/14/2019 3:47 PM
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  • Bears lineman Kyle Long consoles kicker Cody Parkey after he missed a field goal in the NFC wild-card loss to Philadelphia earlier this month at Soldier Field.

      Bears lineman Kyle Long consoles kicker Cody Parkey after he missed a field goal in the NFC wild-card loss to Philadelphia earlier this month at Soldier Field. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

To the surprise of absolutely no one, it sounds very much like Cody Parkey has played his last game for the Chicago Bears.

As GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy met the media Monday to wrap the 2018 season, they left no doubt that the search is on for a new kicker after Parkey played just one forgettable year in Chicago.

"That position is an emphasis for us," Pace said. "We understand we need to get better there. There's so much parity in this league, so many close games.

"The kicker position is critical. There will definitely be competition."

One would assume Nagy had his mind made up before Parkey's appearance Friday on the "Today Show," but if the coach was unsure, that sealed Parkey's fate.

"I did my exit interview with him. That was not brought up at that time," Nagy said. "We always talk about a 'we' and not a 'me' thing. We win as a team and we lose as a team.

"I didn't necessarily think that it was too much of a 'we' thing."

How that TV appearance hurts the Bears is a bit hard to understand, but in a football culture there seems little room for someone like Parkey. He is a man of faith and it's that belief that allows him to sleep at night after missing a big kick.

When the Bears beat the Rams, and after a stretch of 14 straight makes, Parkey told me he had not struggled to survive a tough stretch just a month before.

"It really wasn't difficult," Parkey insisted. "Just a football game at the end of the day. You guys hype it up to be this huge deal.

"I put in the work and I try really hard each and every week and that's all I can do. Hang my hat on that and go to bed at night knowing I gave it my all.

"Perspective is important."

If that was all true, and not just someone trying to convince himself, good for Parkey. Living the nightmare and stewing in your own thoughts can be dangerous for anyone.

But the part of the NBC appearance that bothered most was what was perceived as a lack of devotion to football.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed," Parkey said on NBC. "I let my fans, my teammates and the whole organization down.

"I'll continue to keep my head held high because football is what I do. It's not who I am."

Is that really a lack of dedication or someone just trying to survive? Does it mean he's not tough enough for the NFL?

Either way, the Bears are moving on. Pace has been reluctant to admit mistakes in the past, but on this one he leaves no question about what he will do.

"I know Cody wishes he had a better season. We wish he had a better season, too," Pace said. "We just have to evaluate that now. You just gotta be honest with yourself.

"That's an important position for us. We want more production out of that position and we're gonna get that. You have to self-reflect and be honest and improve it going forward."

In fairness to the Bears, the "Today Show" probably had no impact on this, though coaches hate it when players call attention to themselves. They consider that selfish, especially when a player hasn't gotten the job done.

And it wasn't the Bears criticizing Parkey for believing in something bigger as a way to get past failure, or saying "football is not who I am."

It doesn't mean he's not passionate about his craft. Maybe it just means Parkey can live and survive based on family and faith, especially on those dark days when the uprights represent all that is bad about the world, when he fails to produce at work.

In any case, the Bears seem eager to eat the $4.4 million in dead money and move on from this ugly chapter in Bears history.

It's best for everyone involved.

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