Analysis Opinion

Remembering Ron Parker as a Chief

On Monday, former Kansas City Chiefs safety Ron Parker announced his retirement from the NFL. In his Twitter announcement, Parker thanked the Chiefs, the Hunt family, and specifically head coach Andy Reid for believing in him when others would not. See Parker’s announcement below:

Parker, nicknamed Ghost, entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He bounced around from team to team over the next few seasons, playing mostly on the practice squad for the Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, and twice for the Seattle Seahawks. He had a hard time finding a home in the NFL. He eventually landed a roster spot with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs have a history of player longevity at the free safety position. The great Johnny Robinson occupied the position for 10 years in Kansas City. Gary Barbaro played for 7 years. Deron Cherry played for 8. And most recently, Jerome Woods roamed the KC backfield for 7 years. After Woods, the Chiefs were constantly in search of a safety that could play the position for more than 2 years.

When Scott Pioli took over as general manager in 2009, he tried to fortify the back end of the defense through the draft. He selected Tennessee to stand out Eric Berry with the number 5 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft. With the strong safety position filled with an elite athlete like Berry, Pioli tried to find a serviceable free safety in a later round. He selected Kendrick Lewis out of Mississippi in the 5th round. Berry was great for the Chiefs. Lewis was up and down.

Before the start of the 2013 season, the Kansas City Chiefs moved on from Pioli and brought in John Dorsey to take the helm as general manager. This was also the year that Andy Reid arrived in KC. Dorsey claimed Ron Parker off the waiver wire from Seattle just after the pre-season ended. Parker played in all 16 games for the Chiefs that season, including one start.

The following season, Parker became the starter at FS. He remained the starter for 4 years until the 2017 season. New general manager, Brett Veach, released Parker during the off-season and Parker then signed with the Atlanta Falcons. But that marriage was short-lived, and the Falcons released him during pre-season cut downs. Parker then re-signed with the Chiefs 3 days later and started 14 games at FS that year. He did not sign with any team for the 2019 NFL season.

Ron Parker was a solid FS in the NFL. Always noticeable by his long dreads that hung down to the #38 on the back of his jersey. While his play was usually overshadowed by teammate Eric Berry, Parker was known to make a splash play every now and then. Let’s look at some of his most notable plays.

First up, a pick-six on Sunday Night Football last fall. The Chiefs were already up big against the Cincinnati Bengals in the 3rd quarter. The Bengals started a drive at their own 25-yard line. Parker lined up just behind the linebackers, followed Andy Dalton’s eyes and jumped in front of a pass intended for A.J. Green. With plenty of open field in front of him, Parker took it to the house.

Next up, an interception against the Los Angeles Chargers. With the Chiefs up by 12 late in the 3rd quarter, the Chargers drove deep into Chiefs territory. On a 3rd and 4, Phillip Rivers dropped back to pass, double pumped, and threw a deep out to Keenan Allen. Parker came out of nowhere for a diving interception.

This clip really needs no explanation. It was one heck of a one-handed INT!

For his career, Parker started 78 games (all with the Chiefs), tallied 394 tackles, 8 sacks, and 11 interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. While these numbers may not jump off the page, Parker played extremely well for the Chiefs. He only had 4 fewer interceptions than Jerome Woods and he started in 27 fewer games. He also had 3 more sacks than Woods. Most importantly, Parker gave the Chiefs solid, consistent play at a position that had been lacking for several years. Considering Parker was an undrafted free agent from a division 2 school, I would say he exceeded all expectations.

I would like to personally wish Parker well in his retirement. Congratulations on a great career, Ghost!

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