In the offseason of 2009, Ken Parrish took a risk. This summer, that gamble led him to Las Vegas, but not for the casinos and their bright lights. The 26-year-old was chasing his NFL dream. Parrish was taking part in a kicking and punting camp, hoping to improve his chances of landing on a roster this year.
Parrish’s up and down journey in the NFL started in 2007, when he was released by San Francisco just before the start of the season. He spent eight months as a police officer in his hometown of East Stroudsburg, PA. Even though he was working on his father William’s police force, Parrish wasn’t quite satisfied.
“When I was a cop and everything, I just always had something in the back of my mind. I felt like I just want to go out and be something,” Parrish said. With the seed planted, Parrish considered quitting his job and resuming his football career.
Throughout the process, he had the support of his family and friends. “A lot of the guys on the police force backed me up, my parents were huge backers,” said Parrish. “They were like ‘Ken, if you want to go for it, go for it, but you’ve got to give it everything you’ve got. I mean, it’s the NFL, you can’t just work on the side of being a cop.’”
So he left. Parrish resigned as a police officer and took off to California for six months to train. He was signed by the Eagles (his favorite childhood team, by the way) in May of 2009, but was waived during training camp in August. Parrish then caught on with the Jets for 12 days, but was again waived.
So he spent some time as a substitute teacher, then headed out to Las Vegas to prepare for the season. Parrish says the camp with Louie Aguiar, a former NFL punter, made a huge difference. “That’s pretty much where I buckled down and had some showcases and got in front of some teams and that’s where it started kicking up a little bit,” said Parrish.
Parrish aimed to become more consistent in his punting and more driven in his preparation, “I got some fire inside of me and said ‘Ken, let’s go.’”
It’s certainly go time for Parrish now, as training camp moves forward and he tries to grab a roster spot held by incumbent punter Sav Rocca. Special teams coordinator Bobby April says Rocca’s still in the lead, but Parrish is within striking distance.
So is Parrish worried about what he has to do to overtake Rocca? Not really. “Honestly, I don’t really have that mindset,” said Parrish. He went on to say he’s just focused on improving every day.
It remains to be seen if those daily improvements land him on the Eagles, or another team’s, roster. For Parrish though, it seems to be more about the means than the ends. Either way, in 30 years he’ll know he gave it his best shot, “That’s what life is about, going and getting your dreams.”
Training Camp and Preseason Coverage
ITI’s Ryan Messick will be back at Lehigh University next Thursday, when the Eagles have a mock game scheduled for 10:30 A.M. He’ll also be reporting from Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles take on the Jaguars Friday night to open their preseason schedule.