Parquet brings a ring home to River Parishes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Sports Editor

After Larry Fitzgerald’s 64-yard touchdown reception lifted the Arizona Cardinals to an improbable 23-20 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl XLIII, many thought the Steelers had blown their chance to add a record sixth Super Bowl title to their trophy case.

 With only 2:30 left in the fourth quarter, the Steelers were just about out of chances.

But Jeremy Parquet never lost faith.

A Steelers reserve on the offensive line, the Norco native and Destrehan High product felt deep in his gut that his team would find a way to prevail.

“You’ll think I’m crazy,” Parquet said a week later, “but I just have a lot of faith. I believe in the way this team does things. The way guys care for each other, the way everyone puts their heads down and keep on working, knowing things will work out.”

His belief in the Steelers proved correct.

For the second straight season, the Super Bowl champions would come from behind and score in the final minute to clinch a championship victory.

Santonio Holmes’ “toe-tapping” catch in the endzone gave Pittsburgh a four-point lead with 42 seconds left.

The Cardinals couldn’t answer, and Parquet had realized a long time dream.

“It’s just surreal. Ever since I began playing football, since I was just a fat kid playing for the Norco Redskins in 1988, trying to lose weight…everyone dreams of winning the Super Bowl.”

The road Parquet took to get there made things that much sweeter for him.

He was selected in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL dDaft by the Kansas City Chiefs, but was released a year later after his first coach, Dick Vermeil, was replaced by Herman Edwards.

He moved on to St. Louis, where he was signed to the active roster in 2006.

But Parquet was released after training camp in 2007.

He was resigned by the Rams weeks later, but cut again after two games.

Parquet harbors no bitterness.

“I got to pick the brains of the best,” he said. “I got to learn from guys like Willie Roaf, Will Shields, Brian Waters, Orlando Pace. I feel like God sent me there, to see their tactics and to improve. And from here on out, the sky is the limit.”

The third team proved to be the charm for the 6-foot-6, 321-pound guard. He signed with Pittsburgh on Nov. 29, 2007, and has been there ever since.

Immediately, he noticed differences in his new surroundings.

“It’s a testament to Mr. (Dan) Rooney’s organization,” said Parquet of the Steelers owner. “This team behaves like a real team. Guys hang out with one another. People care about you. Other places I’ve been, owners won’t even look you in the eye. He asks me how I’m doing, how’s my family doing.

“When guys care for each other, they play together.”

Even though Parquet maintained his belief in his team after Fitzgerald’s touchdown, he admits his heart may have skipped a beat.

“Everything was wild (on the sideline),” he said. “We’re all wondering what we’re gonna do? But with two minutes left, you look over and see guys like Big Ben, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, and you knew we had a chance.”

After a week of parades and white-hot fanfare in Pittsburgh, Parquet says he hasn’t yet calmed down from it all.

Saturday marked his return home to Norco, where he says he got to spend time with the people who made it all possible.

“They’ve supported me since I began playing,” he said. “They got me the right clothes, the right shoes when I first started. They put in a lot of work.”

Though he has a ring after only three years as a pro, Parquet saidhe’s not satisfied.

After earning the prize as a backup, he wants his next one to come as an impact starter.

“Any NFL player wants to be on the field, helping their team win. I’m no different,” he said.