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Old 04-02-2010, 07:00 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Parker moves on from Steelers

Parker moves on from Steelers
Friday, April 02, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10092/1047371-66.stm

Running back Willie Parker on not being re-signed by the Steelers: "I can't be too bitter about what happened. I was a little salty, can't say I wasn't. But it's a business and the game I chose to play."

Willie Parker talked to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin this week, and the halfback would not rule out his return to the Steelers.

But that is not what they talked about.

"Nothing dealing with football," Parker said Thursday from his home in North Carolina. "Not really dealing with Pittsburgh or anything like that. I respect him as a coach. One thing they always said, they would play the best guys. I guess I wasn't the best guy."

After a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoting a close associate of Parker's that he was bitter and would prefer to retire than return to the Steelers, Kirby Wilson, who coaches their backs, called Parker. Parker then called Tomlin.

Parker described his feelings as "a little salty," not bitter, and that he definitely is not ready to retire.

"There's a business side; you can't let your pride get in the way," said Parker. "That's a great organization with great people, great character. I can't be too bitter about what happened. I was a little salty, can't say I wasn't. But it's a business and the game I chose to play.

"If they can get rid of LaDainian Tomlinson like that in San Diego, a future Hall of Famer, they'll let anybody go. It's just the business we play in; it's a young man's game."

Parker finds himself unwanted again, or at least it seems that way, just the way it was when he went almost unnoticed at the University of North Carolina and undrafted by the NFL.

Parker is 29 and an unrestricted free agent who has had two visits with other teams, Washington and St. Louis, but no contract. His agent continues to negotiate with others. The Steelers are not one of them.

Parker opened the 2009 season as the Steelers' starting halfback for the fifth consecutive year. Only he took a different stance than he had previously. Instead of putting his hand on the ground and staring ahead, he looked over his shoulder.

There he saw Rashard Mendenhall, the team's first-round draft pick in 2008. Parker ran through and around many walls in his six seasons with the Steelers but he could not ignore the handwriting on this one.

"Think about it: I had a first-rounder behind me," he said. "I knew nothing could happen, I had to play at a high level all the time. I couldn't get hurt."

Parker played with a slightly injured hamstring in the first two games and did not have his normal burst. Then he injured a big toe in the third game and the Willie Parker era gave way to Rashard Mendenhall's.

"When I got hurt, it was like, 'Cool, that's all we needed.'" said Parker "It was an easy decision: Put the first-rounder in, time to start his career."

Parker missed two games, in which Mendenhall ran for 242 yards. Over the next 10 games, Parker carried 34 times. He then carried 12 times in the final game at Miami for 91 yards and thought that might be his ticket to a second chance somewhere.

Nearly a month into free agency, he is nowhere yet and has accepted that no team, at this point, will sign him to be their starter.

"I'm kind of surprised," Parker said. "But people looked over me my entire life. I'll do what I've always done, just go and work hard and the situation will fall in place.

"I've been in worse situations than this. I came in behind a Hall of Fame running back [Jerome Bettis] and Duce [Staley]. I was nobody. If I can go through what I went through at UNC, I can do anything."

Parker understands the whole decision with Mendenhall.

"Rashard's a good running back," said Parker. "I taught him everything I knew, and what the older guys taught me I passed down to him. He's going to do some big things in the NFL, especially this year. I look forward to him having a breakout season."

Parker, in the meantime, hopes to have a break-back-in season. He worked out for two months at five-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson's Performance Center near Dallas and has brought his weight up to 214 pounds -- eight more than last season and back to where he was a few years ago. He thought he would be quicker at 206, but the hits at that weight were more rattling.

"I had to get my body back right," said Parker, who plans to return to Dallas in June. "I think I can still be a great running back, I know that for a fact."

He was that. He topped 1,200 yards rushing three consecutive years, 2005-07, when he averaged 1,337.3 yards. He led the NFL heading into the 15th game of the 2007 season when his leg was broken on his first carry.

Some team will sign him -- and that team ultimately might get a bargain. The Steelers certainly found one with him.
More college visits

The Steelers entertained two more college prospects Thursday, closing out the week after meeting with 13 since Monday. The players visiting with coaches and scouts Thursday were Wake Forest defensive back Brandon Ghee and South Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood. The Steelers will resume visits by prospects Tuesday. Each NFL team is permitted to have 30 prospects visit by April 14.

For more on the Steelers, read Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com.
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Old 04-02-2010, 07:59 AM   #2
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Default Re: Parker moves on from Steelers

I feel bad. I wish Willie the best of luck.
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:03 AM   #3
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Default Re: Parker moves on from Steelers

I wish you the best of luck, FWP. Thank you for all of your contributions to the B & G and for providing us Steelers fans with such excitement during your time here.
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:27 AM   #4
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Default Re: Parker moves on from Steelers

Best of luck FWP!! I'm still holding out hope that you come back to the Steelers.
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: Parker moves on from Steelers

Quote:
Originally Posted by mulldog24 View Post
Best of luck FWP!! I'm still holding out hope that you come back to the Steelers.
Same here. I love his attitude and work ethic. He understands that it was just business that he lost his job, and he only had good things to say about the Steelers organization. If he doesn't get a contract soon, possibly he'll consider coming back here with a smaller contract and a smaller role.
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: Parker moves on from Steelers

Hang tight Parker, I never expected to see El and Foote again, so who knows...maybe mid season...with an injury or two...or next off season...just hang in there man...thanks again for the Record Setting TD Run in the Super Bowl.
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: Parker moves on from Steelers

Willie is one of the good guys. I hope someway, he cam finish his football life as a Steeler.
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Old 04-02-2010, 09:25 AM   #8
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Default Re: Parker moves on from Steelers

has any other team even shown the slightest interest in parker? i hope he signs on with either the ravens, browns or bengals.
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Old 04-02-2010, 09:40 AM   #9
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Default Re: Parker moves on from Steelers

I'm ok with him coming back, but id rather draft a new body in the middle rounds.
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Old 04-02-2010, 10:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: Parker moves on from Steelers

The best of luck to you Willie Parker, unless you're playing the Steelers....then I hope you rush for about -500 yards and cough up the football a ton.
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