Coaches for Charity event features Arizona great Glenn Parker & teams from Thursday’s openers

Former Arizona and NFL lineman Glenn Parker talks to a banquet room full of high school football players at the Coaches for Charity Kickoff Luncheon at the Doubletree Hotel by Hilton (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Some of the Desert View, Sunnyside, Ironwood Ridge and Mica Mountain players in attendance Saturday at the Coaches for Charity Kickoff Luncheon at Doubletree Inn by Hilton may have known little about Glenn Parker before they heard his speech.

Parker’s last game in the NFL was a start at offensive tackle with the New York Giants on Jan. 6, 2002 — before any of the high school players in the banquet room were born.

Perhaps all of them did not realize that Parker never participated in high school football despite playing 12 years in the NFL — a career that included five Super Bowl appearances, four with the Buffalo Bills and one with the Giants.

He did not play organized football until he was noticed as a bouncer at bar in Huntington Beach, Calif., after graduating from high school in 1985.

He played at Golden West Junior College at Huntington Beach before Dick Tomey lured him to Arizona in 1988. His ascension in football was immediate. Arizona signed Parker (6-foot-6 and 290 pounds at the time) after he took recruiting trips to USC, Tennessee and Oregon.

“I admire them because how hard it is (playing high school football),” Parker said of the more than 150 players in attendance Saturday. “I didn’t have that ability in high school. I went out my freshman year. I hated it. I quit and I was done. Therefore, I come from a different place.

“Yeah, I played the game at a high level, but I was the kid in high school that couldn’t be them. They know that if I could do what I do, and I couldn’t be them, what can they do?”

Desert View coach Robert Bonillas played for Arizona from 1996-99 when Mica Mountain coach Pat Nugent was a graduate assistant under Dick Tomey (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Parker’s speech was charged with emotion, focusing on discipline vs. motivation to persevere toward success. He had the ear of all the players in attendance.

“Every sport demands dedication, but football demands something more,” Parker told them. “It demands a dedication but it demands a discipline to the pain, a discipline to the workouts, that no other sport has.

“Motivation sucks. Anybody who tells you to get motivated, is telling you that you need an exterior force to become something. Discipline will always win over motivation. … Are you motivated to go to practice? No. But you go anyways, why? Because you have the discipline to do it. Apply that to everything you do in life, anything you want. Apply the discipline over the motivation.”

After his playing career was over, Parker became a television broadcaster and radio sports talk show host in Tucson. He was on Rich Rodriguez’s last staff at Arizona in 2017, and he coached the offensive line at Catalina Foothills when his son Will played with the Falcons in 2018 and 2019.

In January, he became the director of outreach and engagement with the University of Arizona Foundation. He is in his sixth year with the Foundation.

He intends to be on sidelines watching more high school games locally this season in between visiting his daughter Caroline at Western Colorado, where she is playing volleyball, and Will, who is with the Colgate football team. Caroline and Will are Catalina Foothills graduates as were his two oldest children Madeline and Emily, both of whom played soccer in college — Madeline with New Mexico and Emily with Oklahoma.

His wife is Casey, who was part of Arizona’s national-championship synchronized swimming program.

Parker, who mentioned he surfed in high school rather than play football, offered the crowd an entertaining story of how Tomey swayed him to attend Arizona, where he met his future wife. Tomey was in his first season at Arizona in 1987 after coming from Hawaii when Parker was playing at Golden West.

He said Tennessee’s Johnny Majors and Oregon’s Rich Brooks came to his house “wearing either school gear or suits and ties.”

“Dick Tomey came to my house in shorts, flip-flops and a Hawaiian shirt and sat on the floor,” Parker said. “I said, ‘I’m going there.’ That guy got me.”


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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