PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s a campaign going on right now out there in the “Twitter-verse” titled “Re-sign 39.”
It’s aimed at the Steelers bringing back Willie Parker. “Fast Willie” left in a hurry after the 2009 season when it became clear Rashard Mendenhall had surpassed him as the starting running back. So off to the Washington Redskins Willie went. That turned out to be the worst decision of his career and now he wants back in with the Black and Gold.
“When you’re going somewhere thinking the grass is greener on the other side,” Parker said, “and when you finally get there and you realize you left for the wrong reasons, it sucks.”
Willie actually turned down an offer to remain with the Steelers.
“I didn’t burn any bridges,” he said, “but at the end it was kind of my decision.”
He signed with the Washington Redskins, who told Parker he could be their starter. He now feels the Redskins pulled a fast one on “Fast Willie.”
“When you’re on top,” he said, “you know where your future’s headed. It’s a business. You go where the grass is greener, you think it’s a better situation, a better fit. Going to Washington, talking to them, before I made the decision, they’re going to lure me in the best way they can.”
Which was telling him he would start.
“They knew that’s what I wanted to hear.”
What he wound up finding in Washington was unlike anything he had ever experienced in his football career.
“Man, the opposite of the whole organization of Pittsburgh,” he said. “I never been in a situation like that.”
On the field, he felt undervalued and overworked to the point of injury.
“I used to dread going to practices. Absolutely dread it,” he said. “They had meetings with me, then with CP (Clinton Portis), and pretty much told us all, nobody’s the starter.”
“Me? My competitive nature, I felt I could beat anyone out if we go out and compete and everything’s even and no BS, that’s just me.
“Practice? There were days in practice when coaches were treating me like I was a rookie. Me and LJ (Larry Johnson). There were some days he [didn’t] get the ball, some days me. CP — he [didn’t] practice at all.
“So I’m like, they had me and LJ feel like we’re competing for the job and they had no intentions of keeping us at all.”
Off the field, he says, it was even worse.
“The players,” he said, “there were only a certain few I respected – only a certain few that could play in an organization like Pittsburgh,” Parker said.
“The rest, the only thing they do is party. They party all the time. I wasn’t about that. They tried to get me to go out, party, every day of the week,” he continued. “You got practice tomorrow? They partying. It’s a different type of partying. The go hard, and they don’t care too much about football and I care about football. I party last and football first as a priority.”
The situation was so bad, that after being cut by the Redskins, Parker had a chance to go back with them and turned it down.
“They called me midway through the season and tried to re-sign me. I called coach Cowher and I talked with coach Cowher and I tried to get some advice from him before I made the decision to go back. He told me, quote, ‘You better get your a– back on that field.’ That’s what he said.
“But then after I talked with him, we talked for a long time, and (he said) if you feel that way, and you feel that’s how it’s gonna be, if it’s really like that and I never heard anything like that when it come to coaches, I wouldn’t make that decision,” Parker said.
But the full season off allowed Parker to get fully healthy and realize where it is he wants to be.
“The bottom line,” he said, “I want to be back in Pittsburgh. The Black and Gold – I know the situation. Rashard’s the starter back or whatever, but I know what I can do.
“The thing about it is it’s not really about money right now. It’s about playing.
“It’s too bad it (took having) to go somewhere else to find out, what it was but I don’t regret any decision I made. But one thing I can say, if I could turn back the hands of time, I would’ve made a different decision,” he concluded.