Despite playing football since high school, Cody Parkey has never been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Now, a pair of his cleats will be making the trip before he does.
The pair of cleats Parkey wore in the Eagles' Week 17 win over the New York Giants was packaged and shipped off to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. In that final game of the season, Parkey set an NFL record for the most points by a rookie in a season. He also set the Eagles' franchise record for most points in a season in 2014 with 150.
The pair of cleats, which Parkey wore for the last month of the season, will join memorabilia from quarterback Nick Foles' seven-touchdown game against the Oakland Raiders in 2013 and gear from running back LeSean McCoy's performance in the Snow Bowl.
If you get a close-up look at the shoes when they wind up in the Hall in the near future, you might notice a few curious things about the kicks.
For starters, Parkey normally wears a size 10.5 shoe, but he likes his football cleats - which are actually lightweight soccer cleats, co-opted for football action - to be a half-size smaller.
"I squeeze down into a 10 cleat just to have a more impactful feel in there," Parkey said in a phone interview Wednesday.
You also might notice that the front spikes on his right cleat, the one he used to punch 32 field goals through the uprights this year, are a little worn down. It turns out that's a trade secret Parkey likes to employ, something only certain kickers choose to do.
"I like to file down the three spikes closest to where I kick the ball on my kicking foot," Parkey explained. "That way I can really feel the ball, I can get under it well, and for me I like to feel that swipe on the grass without any of the cleats interfering."
Parkey said head equipment manager Greg Delimitros will take a big file and shave down the front three spikes of the right cleat to Parkey's preferred specifications, leaving the left cleat the way it is. Sometimes he has to superglue the soles of his shoes down to the bottom so that they don't come out, but other than that, the preparation is complete. A few practice kicks to make sure the spikes are the right length, and voilà - a perfect cleat, fit for a (nearly) perfect kicker.
While his shoes are busy being packaged for a trip to the Rust Belt, Parkey is relaxing down in his home state of Florida. After a busy first season, capped off with an impromptu trip to the Pro Bowl, he's enjoying not kicking a football for a few weeks. And the sunshine down there sure beats Philadelphia's snow.
He said his first Pro Bowl experience was certainly one to remember, spending a week in Arizona hanging out with five teammates and a number of NFL superstars.
"It was a lot of fun, hanging out with all the guys on the team," Parkey said. "We had a good time. It was a week's vacation with some football in there, had the chance to help the community, a lot of fun."
The 22-year-old even got to meet up with Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, whom Parkey competed with in Training Camp last season before being traded to the Eagles. The two talked shop and the 19-year veteran Vinatieri gave Parkey some advice on keeping the momentum of this season going.
That's the big focal point for Parkey as he prepares for his sophomore campaign: keeping momentum going. He's taken a little time to reflect on the success that has the Pro Football Hall of Fame asking for his shoes, but he's more focused on what's yet to come.
"You look back on (the season), and you think you had some success here," Parkey said. "For me, I just always want to get better. For me, it's not even looking at how great of a season it was, but it's about looking at how I can get even better next year. Every day I wake up, it's kind of like, 'Alright, let's get after it.' I want to be the best that's ever done it, that's always been my mindset."
To keep chasing that lofty goal, Parkey said he isn't taking anything for granted, even after a phenomenal first season. He wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine last season, and he used that as fuel for his fire. This season, he said, he's not changing anything.
"I don't think anything's changed just because I played a year in the league," Parkey explained. "There's guys coming out of college right now that have the same mindset that I had last year. They're trying to steal my job and anybody else's job in the league. It's just one of those deals."
Well, there is one difference. This time around, he's got a pair of shoes ticketed for a display case in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.