If at first you don't succeed ...
Ex-Bill Parker ready to win Super Bowl with Giants
Now comes Parker's bonus.
The 11-year veteran is making his fifth trip to the Super Bowl. But he's still looking for his first win. Only former Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Cornelius Bennett is winless in as many Super Bowl appearances.
"You try to tell yourself you're just happy to get there, but you're not. You've got to win it," said Parker, who made his first four trips to the Super Bowl with the Bills (1991-94).
As much as the 34-year-old Parker hopes to end his losing streak, he also will be fine if it doesn't happen. The only reason he started playing football, anyway, was for a free education.
It was a move that changed his life. But what he accomplished before he donned pads and a helmet is what prepared him for football and -- quite possibly -- his future.
"I swore when I got into this league that I wasn't going to be a football player who was broke when he was done, so I've lived very frugally to have enough money that, if I want, I can retire and not have to work," said Parker, an avid wine collector who might dabble in the industry after football.
Either retirement or the wine industry would be a big change for Parker, who grew up as a self-proclaimed "beach bum" in Huntington Beach, Calif., and started in the labor force at the age of 14. His first job was picking up trash on the beach.
It was good because it kept him in the sun and close to the surf. But it also forced him out of bed about 4:30 each morning, so he soon moved on to bigger and better things.
He worked in a butcher shop, occasionally dealing with customers but mostly cleaning the floor, or as Parker likes to put it, "getting the blood and guts off."
"It wasn't much fun," he said. "So it didn't last very long."
After that, Parker took several odd jobs, including one that required him to repossess computers.
Ready for another change, Parker enrolled at Golden West Junior College and began his football career as a walk-on.
"It was purely economic," he said. "I wanted to go to college. I was at a junior college and I wanted to go to a four-year school, but I didn't want my parents to have to pay for a four-year college after working and goofing off for two years."
He transferred to Arizona after two years and then was drafted in the third round by Buffalo in 1990.
In his first season, the Bills advanced to the Super Bowl in Tampa. But when Scott Norwood's 47-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right -- giving the Giants the championship -- Parker just assumed he would get another chance.
He was right. Buffalo went to the next three Super Bowls, but Parker is still looking for his first ring.
"It's a bitter pill," he said.
Now he has a fifth chance, this time with a team nobody expected to get this far.
"In Buffalo we were always winners. They treated us that way. There was none of the stigma of losing four Super Bowls," said Parker, who played three years with Kansas City before joining the Giants.
"In the league, I think players look at us as winners. I have friends in Kansas City who still talk about, 'I can't believe you got four chances and now you're getting a fifth.' When they make jokes, they say, 'Yeah, but you never won one.' But in their hearts, and in reality, they talk about the jealousy of never getting here."
Parker's hard work may finally pay off. He hopes so, and so do his teammates.
"I want him to get one," teammate Lomas Brown said. "I want myself to get one but me personally, I'm trying to do it for him."