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Football players and pro athletes, in general, will all tell you they know that the end will eventually come, but you can never be truly prepared for it. So you’ll have to forgive Anthony Parker if he was a little bit antsy in the weeks and months following his release from the Calgary Stampeders, the only CFL organization he had ever known, back in mid-June of this year.
The veteran receiver found a way to keep busy by working in real estate for Shane Homes, a new homebuilder, in Calgary. But when last week’s phone call revealed the voice of Ed Hervey on the other line, it didn’t take Parker long to switch back into football mode.
“I couldn’t be happier. It was one of those things where I was hoping an opportunity would come to be,” said Parker.
“I was still at work Wednesday and Thursday I was on the road. (It was) a quick drive out for me and I’m finally getting settled in and used to the offence things like that.”
When he wasn’t busy swinging real estate deals, Parker made time to watch as much football as he could. One big takeaway he picked up from watching his new team is the fact they should be better than what their 3-6 record indicates. And so far, he has loved working with the offence.
“We’ve got big play potential,” said the veteran receiver.
“What I’ve noticed with coach Jackson is there’s a ton of movement, a ton of variability in the offence. Different stuff when you look at what (Chris) Rainey does and when you look at what Travon (Van) can do and some of the things that I bring. I think there’s a potential just to just grow the offence that much more. I think this team is just a couple of plays away from being in a real different situation from a standings perspective. I’m just excited for the back half.”
After starring at Foothills Composite High School in nearby Okotoks, Parker was recruited by his hometown Calgary Dinos and led all of Canada West in receiving yards in 2009. After being selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game a year later, he fulfilled a lifelong dream when the Stampeders selected him 3rd overall in the 2011 CFL Draft.
As the injuries and inconsistencies continue to pile up on the west coast, getting a receiver of Parker’s calibre made perfect sense especially when you consider he gives the Lions options when it comes to the ratio. Should he get an opportunity in Emmanuel Arceneaux’s spot, it gives them the luxury of starting an American at a different position.
It also doesn’t take a medical doctor to point out that this receiving corps has been battling a case of the “drops” lately, especially on the heels of their most recent defeat against Saskatchewan. In 108 career games with the Stampeders, Parker recorded 36 catches, 15 of those for touchdowns. One other thing the offence can certainly benefit from is the big game experience he brings to the table.
Parker also suited up in three Grey Cups, helping the red and white hoist the trophy in 2014 when they held off Hamilton at BC Place. Given their place in the standings, every game from now on will feel like the playoffs. Parker should fit right in.
“Absolutely, that’s the thing,” added Parker.
“Every week for us now going forward is going to be huge, it’s going to mean a lot for us as far as where we’re going to finish, so as you said it’s almost a playoff environment. You can feel it in practice and I’m sure that we’ll feel it in games as well. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
Although the real estate world can be glamorous, Parker is happy football is once again the prime focus of his working routine.
“I was trying to sell a few houses in a tough market. I was busy doing that, but still hoping for something to come and it did. So here we are. As you said, no player is expecting it; everybody knows they’re going to get cut at some point but nobody thinks it’s coming today or tomorrow. I had a vision in mind and unfortunately, it didn’t go the way that I wanted to. This is kind of the 2nd chapter for me. I’m excited about the future.”