Giants G Parker wants to put past failures behind him
Updated: Friday January 19, 2001 6:05 PM
The utility vehicles with the grills hitched on were already parked in the players' lot outside Giants Stadium. There was a barrel and wood in place to build a bonfire, and some of Parker's friends and family were already there with an assortment of food and drink, which last week included a keg of homemade Scottish ale.
"I think he even put a Porta-Potty out there," backup center Derek Engler said.
That's Glenn Parker, who in less than a season has become the team's self-appointed social director.
He's the presiding judge of the Giants' kangaroo court, a wine expert with a passion for cooking, a baldheaded, tattooed 312-pounder who looks very comfortable sitting on a big Harley.
Parker is also the left guard and emotional leader of the revamped Giants' offensive line, a much-improved unit that might be facing its biggest challenge against the Baltimore Ravens in next Sunday's Super Bowl.
In four previous trips to the Super Bowl with the Buffalo Bills, Parker never went home a winner. Only Cornelius Bennett has lost more times: five.
"I'm at that point where I really want to win one," Parker said. "I think everybody does, there's no revelation there. You try to tell yourself you're happy getting there, but you're not. You gotta win it.
"After all the trips down to the Super Bowl and everything, honestly, I don't remember all the bars or parties I went to, but I remember four losses."
Two were brutal - particularly the first, Super Bowl XXV, when Scott Norwood was wide right on a game-winning 47-yard field goal attempt in a 20-19 loss to the Giants.
"He had made that kick all year," Parker said. "It always hooked. That time it didn't."
The final defeat was almost as crushing as the first. Buffalo blew a 13-6 halftime lead and lost to the Cowboys again, 30-13.
"He told me that's the loneliest feeling in the world, to lose a Super Bowl," said fellow veteran offensive lineman Lomas Brown, who will be playing in his first. "For him to go four years in a row and lose them all, he has to be devastated. My whole focus is to help him."
Parker's free-agent signing with the Giants was somewhat of a fluke. New York tried to sign Andy Heck, but he decided to stay in Washington, general manager Ernie Accorsi said.
Tom Condon, Heck's agent, then suggested that Accorsi consider Parker, who had joined the Chiefs in 1997. The Giants worked him out and signed him with the expectation that he would be a backup tackle to Brown.
"After Jim [Fassel] had him for a little while, he came into my office and said, 'This guy is starting,'" Accorsi said.
Not only did the slightly overweight 34-year-old emerge as a starter, he became a leader on a unit that desperately needed one.
"I think people expect me to have a gruff personality, with the bald head, the beard and the tattoos," Parker said. "I'm not like that. I'm a pretty easygoing guy."
Because of that personality, Parker was able to get the linemen to start hanging out together. He even convinced them to join his kangaroo court.
Linemen were fined for penalties, the clothing they wore, tripping over their own feet in practice, talking to more than 10 members of the media at once and an assortment of other misdeeds.
Food and drink seemingly are his favorite pursuits. The youngest of six children growing up in California, Parker says he was forced to cook as a child.
"I wanted to get better at it so in started reading cookbooks and magazines," Parker said. While playing for the Bills, he took lessons from a chef.
"I learned better techniques and better food and it tends to snowball," he said.
The same with his interest in wine. His wife Casey and her family introduced him to fine wines. He thought it was a culture he was missing out on, and he got hooked. He now has 3,000 bottles in his collection.
"If there is something to be learned and there is an interest, I just learn it," said Parker.
He credits his numerous tattoos to being "young and stupid."
"I still love them and I'd like to have more, but my wife doesn't want them any more, so. ..."
Parker's road to the NFL is a little out of the ordinary.
He never played sports in high school. He tried out for football as a freshman and that was enough for him. He didn't get back in the game until college. Even then, football was only a means to pay for school.
After two years at Golden West Junior College, he transferred to the University of Arizona and started for two seasons.
He was drafted by the Bills in the third round and became only one of four NFL players to play in the Super Bowl in each of his first four seasons.
Going to Tampa this time, Parker isn't planning on preaching to the Giants. He'll tell them what the Bills did wrong and help his teammates deal with the madness of the week.
"The one thing you learn in Super Bowls is that the emotional level is so high it also crumbles very fast," Parker said. "You can see it. The trick is to keep everyone at that high emotional level and not let them get down, no matter what happens."