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Old 12-26-2009, 12:37 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance

Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_659503.html#
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, December 26, 2009

Willie Parker may well play his final home game in a Steelers' uniform Sunday.

If Parker, who is in the final year of his contract, signs elsewhere after the season, he will leave Pittsburgh as one of the more distinguished running backs in Steelers history though probably not on the terms he envisioned.

Parker lost his starting job to Rashard Mendenhall earlier this season, and the sixth-year veteran has seen only spot duty since the middle of October.

What he hasn't done since a toe injury and Mendenhall's emergence left him with a vastly reduced role is sound off or pout. That has earned the Steelers' third all-time leading rusher the admiration of his coaches and teammates.

"Willie's the same," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "He's not been bitter or standoffish. He's embraced it."

"I'm not a cancer to any team," Parker said. "I keep a smile on my face when I come to work. Sometimes you want to be back against the wall so you can come out fighting."

Parker has had to battle through the most trying times he has experienced since bursting onto the scene in 2005 with 1,202 rushing yards and a record 75-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XL.

Turf toe sidelined him for two games in October. Parker has averaged just 3.6 carries and 13.6 rushing yards in the nine games he has played since returning to action.

The two-time Pro Bowler got just one carry in two of those games. He went without a carry in the Steelers' 28-10 win at Denver on Nov. 9, the first time he has not gotten the ball in a game since his rookie season in 2004.

"When I find myself frustrated, I look back at how I became the starter," the 29-year-old Parker said, "how I became the guy."

Parker took over the feature back role from Jerome Bettis in 2005, and he has leaned on the latter during what has been a frustrating season for the 5-10, 209-pounder.

Bettis' influence on Parker can be seen in the way the latter has continued to mentor Mendenhall even after losing his job to the second-year running back. Bettis took a similar approach with Parker after the latter signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent.

"It just says a lot about his character," Mendenhall said of the pointers Parker has given him on and off the field. "He's the leader of the running backs (meeting) room."

The Steelers selected Mendenhall in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft, roughly four months after Parker broke his lower right leg.

Parker has battled injuries since then, while Mendenhall has blossomed this season.

He needs just 22 rushing yards tomorrow against the Ravens to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Mendenhall has played so well that he is now the Steelers' every-down back.

"When they draft a first-round guy, everybody knows that he's going to play," Ward said. "It was the same way with (linebackers) Larry Foote and (Lawrence) Timmons."

Parker said he is a "a Steeler" though he politely declined comment when asked if he would consider re-signing with the team as a backup.

For now, Parker, who is making $4 million this season, is focused on finishing with his head held high and with a flourish should the Steelers need him in the event of an injury to Mendenhall.

"He's a pro and a great person," Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said of Parker. "He's handled everything extremely well."

By the numbers

Here is a look at Steelers running back Willie Parker:

1 Parker's NFL rank in rushing before breaking his lower right leg in the next-to-last game of the 2007 season

3.3 Yards Parker has averaged per carry this season

4 Seasons Parker has led the Steelers in rushing

4.25 Yards per carry Parker has averaged during his career

24 Career rushing touchdowns by Parker

223 Parker's career-high for rushing yards in a game, which is a Steelers record

329 Carries Parker averaged in 2006-07

5,270 Parker's career rushing yards

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 12-26-2009, 05:15 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance

I honestly wonder if this guy doesn't end up in the CFL next year. I mean, which NFL team would be dumb enough to sign him for at least a medium contract, which is probably what he'll want? I'd say the Raiders, but they've already got like 6 running back who are decent. That leave, like ... the Lions.

Ahh, well. Sorry, Willie. You will be missed..





.. BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! sorry, couldn't hold it in
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Old 12-26-2009, 06:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance

I would say he is gone for sure after this year. He had his flashes of being a good running back but those days are gone. Willie never was the same after he broke his leg seemed like he never could get it going again. It is now time for the Mendenhall show for a while.
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Old 12-26-2009, 09:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance

He had a good run, even if it ends here. He made millions and for an undrafted RB, that's not bad. Proper investments and responsible spending and he is set for life.

Can't beat that with a 10' pole.
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Old 12-26-2009, 11:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance

Quote:
Originally Posted by steelreserve View Post
I honestly wonder if this guy doesn't end up in the CFL next year. I mean, which NFL team would be dumb enough to sign him for at least a medium contract, which is probably what he'll want? I'd say the Raiders, but they've already got like 6 running back who are decent. That leave, like ... the Lions.

Ahh, well. Sorry, Willie. You will be missed..





.. BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! sorry, couldn't hold it in

That was SO not cool.

If this is indeed Willie's last year, I will wish him the best in the next stage of his career and I thank him for the good years he did give us. Yes, his productivity has gone down, but let's remember his TD run in SBXL was key to getting that 5th title.
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Old 12-26-2009, 02:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance

Thanks Willie Parker for everything you have done for the Steelers organization. You had a great run! Good luck with your next team or what happens after the 2009 season.
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Old 12-26-2009, 02:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance

Agreed...Love ya FWP...You are just to fragile now!
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Old 12-26-2009, 02:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance

you can blame a lot of the downturn in his production to the coaching staff

yes i am glad we have big ben, but you don't win throwing the ball, 500 yards in a game is way to many, got to get back to steeler football, run the damn thing
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Old 12-26-2009, 04:09 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance

Quote:
Originally Posted by memphissteelergirl View Post
That was SO not cool.

If this is indeed Willie's last year, I will wish him the best in the next stage of his career and I thank him for the good years he did give us. Yes, his productivity has gone down, but let's remember his TD run in SBXL was key to getting that 5th title.
You have to admit with all the injuries he's piled up over the years, if he's not in the game then what good is he to a team. I'm not saying this sarcastically, just that he's out more than he's in.
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Old 12-26-2009, 04:34 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' Parker taking a professional stance

I have always like FWP and wish him luck where ever he ends up next season.
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