Parkey Still Best Kicker In Chicago: No Winners At Goose Island's Field Goal Challenge

Ariel Parrella-Aureli
January 12, 2019 - 6:39 pm

Scott Gring

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- It was a prime Chicago day that brought major forces of the city together.

Goose Island’s Field Goal Challenge called on Bears fans to come out and try to kick a 43-yard kick that Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed in the team’s heated game Jan. 6. Sprinkled in with heavy snowfall, the Chicago event drew hundreds of people to watch, kick and enjoy beer at the company’s Taproom location in the West Loop.

Out of the 103 people who signed up and kicked, not one made the goal. But that didn’t bring any soreness to the challenge; kickers and onlookers dressed up in their favorite football jerseys, cheered on those excited to kick the ball and laughed at the many butt slips and slides, courtesy of the snow.

Zac Connelly, senior experiential operations manager, thought pairing beer with sports and community felt like a natural way to bring people together and change the reaction of Parkey’s missed field goal. Connelly was the one who came up with the idea, saying he knew the amount of hate Parkey was bound to receive moments after he kicked.

“To (see him) walk off the field and be booed by his own fans was such a downer,” Connelly said. “This is the guy everyone is taking their angst on.”

The longtime Bears fan was right. Within seconds, social media blew up about the failed kick and reacted shamefully for Parkey. But then news came in that the kick was tipped, which changed the discussion online. But still, people boasted they could have made the kick, which led Connelly to say: come down and prove how easy a 43-yarder is.

After some quick texting and phone calls to managers, Goose Island employees and city officials, the event came to fruition. Anyone who made a 43-yard field goal could attend a regular-season NFL game of their choice on Goose Island’s dime. There was even a grand prize possibility: If they kicked a 65-yard field goal, they could have won a trip to the Super Bowl.

Connelly said he did not kick but thought there would be a few winners from the challenge. Even though the prizes weren’t taken, he said Goose Island reached out to Parkey to let him know about the event and ask what his favorite charity is, to which he answered Lurie Children’s Hospital. Connelly said the beer company wanted to do something special to show support for the kicker, who has since appeared on the Today Show to discuss the missed kick.

“We saved a little money by not sending anyone to any NFL games so we are going to donate $20,000 to Lurie’s on his behalf,” Connelly said.

Erin Fisher

The energy of the event had a strong level of commitment, excitement and seriousness packed into the beer warehouse, where kickers warmed up beforehand and stretched their legs. Roommates Ryan Bennett, Scott Gring and Rajat Gupta arrived at 9:30 a.m. to try their luck at kicking the field goal and to experience the Goose Island Taproom—something that’s been on their list since moving to the city about a year and a half ago.

Gupta, who has been playing soccer since he was 9 years old, said his kicking skills came in handy and he wowed the crowd with his far kick. Bennett said he heard one of the people monitoring the kicks say it was one of the closest they had seen.

“Rajat had the leg — he had the distance,” Bennett said. “He was just a little left of the pole.”

They all agreed that it was a fun experience and a win-win situation for everyone. For them, it was worth getting up early and pushing through the snow. Gupta said a man in line behind him came from Mississippi for the event. Watch them try their luck at the Field Goal Challenge below.

Although all three are transplants, they are football fans and had money on the Bears game. Bennett said he would have liked to see the Bears win but the end of the day, Gring said Parkey’s role was a difficult one.

“It’s a tough position to be in, being a kicker, because everyone is looking at you and you can’t mess up (or) take a playoff,” Gring said.

Bennett acknowledged that while they may have been a little out of their league, Parkey should feel good that no one made the goal.

“For his sake, all of us common folk missing was probably good because we didn’t have the pressure, everyone was relaxed,” he said, with a laugh. “(Parkey) is probably still the best kicker in Chicago.”

Rajat Gupta, Scott Gring and Ryan Bennett. Photo: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/WBBM Newsradio

Our reporter Terry Keshner was also on the scene and watched the missed kicks fly over heads, past fences, hit the building and even bounce back. Watch his try at kicking below.

The event was a true example of what Chicago can accomplish with a little humor, enthusiasm and Next Coast IPAs in one’s system—just the perfect amount to come up with this funny idea, Connelly said. With city support, the dedication of Goose Island event staff and the turnout rate, the challenge brought positive energy for a day to remember in typical Chicago style.

“For us, beer is about bringing people together and we were able to put a positive spin on (the game),” Connelly said. “Being outside, snowy, windy, it was all smiles, which is what beer and sports are all about at the end of the day.”