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AC in the AM: A Hometown Kid Getting His Kicks

Posted Sep 21, 2017

You want a great movie script? You want the irony of all ironies? Try kicking this one around.

At 10 years old, Cody Parkey represented the Miami Dolphins in the Punt, Pass & Kick contest. Did so, in fact, for three straight years. Got to show off his already powerful right leg at what is now Hard Rock Stadium.

Who could have possibly predicted that some 15 years later, he would actually be kicking for the Dolphins. Who could have imagined that the same kid from Jupiter Florida, in his first game with the team he grew up loving, would convert the longest game-winning field goal in franchise history and be selected the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week?

You can’t make up stuff like this. You just can’t.

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Doug Parkey considers himself a pretty even-keeled person. But you should have seen him late last Sunday afternoon in his South Florida living room, surrounded by his wife and two of his three sons, watching his third son become the Dolphins’ newest hero.

Loud cheers. High fives. A beaming father and mother. “I was celebrating, but I was also trying to keep my wife from causing any physical damage to herself,” Doug Parkey said.

It is not every day one of your sons has a moment like that. Only a couple of weeks after being claimed off waivers, in the most pressure packed of situations, Cody Parkey went out and nailed one from 54 yards out.

“A very special moment,” his dad said.

But you have to excuse Doug Parkey if his jubilance is slightly tempered. See, he knows all about the life of a kicker because he was one. A pretty good one in high school, just outside of Chicago. He knows how quickly things can change too, how you are only as good as your next kick and that is something he first emphasized to his older son, Doug Jr., who kicked at Jupiter High School, and then shared the same advice with Cody who literally followed in Doug Jr.’s footsteps at Jupiter High.

“Cody isn’t perfect,” dad says, “but he’s awfully good.”

This isn’t a story about stumbling onto a kicking career. This is a story about a kid who in so many ways was raised to put his right foot forward, knocking down 40-plus yard field goals before he was 10, sneaking on to the high school football field at 12 years old with his father and brothers to practice extra points and in his teens competing against some of the country’s top young kickers in combines from coast to coast.

“What better way to simulate the pressure of kicking then going up against some of the top ones in the country,” Doug recalled. “We spent a lot of time travelling to those combines.”

Doug Parkey knew enough about kicking to know that his son had a chance to be special. “I could tell,” he said, “at an early age.”

But there was no pushing and prodding. There was encouragement and fine-tuning and plenty of fatherly advice, but once Doug Parkey realized how high his son’s ceiling could be, he sought help from others.

“I wanted to give him every chance to succeed,” says Doug.

Little wonder that, sitting by his locker earlier this week, suddenly the center of everyone’s attention, Cody credited his father for much of his success. For his teachings. For his encouragement. For believing.

“My dad,” Cody Parkey says today, “was the one who always motivated me.”

How did this journey lead Parkey back to South Florida? How did the kid who tailgated with his family outside the stadium, who so closely followed the career of former Dolphins’ kicker Olindo Mare and who had a Dolphins’ logo on his bedroom wall end up right there last Sunday, making perhaps the kick of his life?

It wasn’t a straight line path and it certainly wasn’t expected.

First, there was a successful college career at Auburn. Then with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, Parkey broke the NFL scoring record for a rookie with 150 points, earning him a spot in the Pro Bowl.

But a groin injury in 2015 sent him to injured reserve and it lingered into the next season, Parkey eventually cut by the Eagles and claimed by the Browns where he enjoyed an excellent 2016 season, except for the one game against the Dolphins where he missed three field goals, including the game winner.

“I own what happened that day,” Parkey recalls. “I just had to move on.”

And so did the Browns who drafted a kicker in the seventh round, Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez, thus making Parkey expendable. That was the opening the Dolphins needed. Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi had watched Parkey for a while and was impressed enough to create a roster opening by releasing incumbent Andrew Franks. Who could have predicted that?

The fact that Parkey was a career five-for-five on kicks of 50 yards or longer certainly had something to do with it. Now, after last Sunday’s performance, you can make that to six-for-six.

It was on the flight home from Southern California, watching a replay of his game-winning kick on his phone, when it first really hit Cody Parkey, when the enormity of the moment began to sink in.

“It was neat, really neat,” he said.

I asked him if he could think of anything right now that could top what he did against the Chargers in his first Dolphins’ game?

“With the exception of marrying my wife Colleen this past July 1, I’m not sure anything can top this,” he said.

Smart kid. Feet squarely planted on the ground, exactly where a kicker needs to be.

Who knows what is in store next for Cody Parkey. His father will tell you all about the life of a kicker. Never get too high. Never get too low. Don’t let the misses linger. Savor the good moments and move on. That’s what Parkey is trying to do this week. Move on to the Jets. Move on to the next kick.

But what a ride it has been. From Punt, Pass & Kick in the Dolphins’ stadium to winning games in a Dolphins’ uniform. In a remarkable sort of way, Cody Parkey’s life has come full circle.

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by our columnists and bloggers represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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