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The End Near for Willie Parker?

Last night in Denver Willie Parker stood on the sidelines most of the night, never having to break a sweat. He played only one play to the best of my knowledge, and didn’t get a carry. Could this be a sign of things to come? Parker, who is in the last year of his deal, has clearly given way to Rashard Mendenhall, who bullied his way to 155 yards last night, and has been getting the job done the past few weeks.

Mike Tomlin said a few weeks back that Parker was still his back, but now, after having to wait through injuries and other issues, he seems bent on making sure that Parker is nothing more than a decoy, standing on the sidelines waiting to get a carry or two.

Sure, if needed, Parker can come in and get some carries. Right now though, it appears that his Steelers career is quickly coming to a close and it’s going to come as he stands on the sidelines, watching Mendenhall be the feature back the Steelers felt he would be when they took him in the first round last season.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. mark

    November 11, 2009 at 8:58 am

    No doubt who the starter is. But, I can see Willie getting into the mix at the latter stages of the season. Mendy has been Very good but having 2 backs is better and hopefully Parker will be healthy and contributing by the last 3/4 games. Yes, we are seeing the end of a good Steeler in Pittsburgh. Parker was instrumental in winning Super Bowl XL, was a leader and still the go-to guy in Super Bowl XLIII, but his size, injuries and work load have shortened his career. This is not uncommon for smaller speed backs who carry this many times. Parker should be proud of his accomplishments and his contributions as a Steeler. Fans should realize he is the 3rd leading rusher in Steeler history and that he was a BIG part of 2 Super bowls and could still be helpful as the team tries for a third. (7 total!!).

  2. Ralph

    November 11, 2009 at 10:26 am

    It would appear Parker’s days as an NFL back are over. In recent years, we’ve seen it happen to Shaun Alexander, LT, Larry Johnson, now Willie, and possibly Brian Westbrook. Great backs just seem to hit a wall and then it’s over for them. Kudos to the Stillers for recognizing the end was near when they drafted Mendenhall. Moves like that keep them at the top.

  3. DrGeorge

    November 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    As Mark notes, we all recognize Parker’s immense contribution to the Steelers Super Bowl victories. At the time, I repeatedly warned that running Parker between the tackles was like throwing a Rolex against the wall; it was bound to shorter his career. And he has not, in fact, run well since the knee injury. At 30, most NFL backs are done. In Parker’s case, the financials don’t support his retention either. He is a valuable backup right now, and in effect, he is auditioning for other teams to sign him in the post-season. I don’t think there will be a long line waiting for him. It’s simply the nature of the game. But bear in mind Mendenhall’s prior injuries. Parker is only a tackle away from starting again.

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