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Cowboys rookie Micah Parsons can seemingly do it all. In his first five games at the pro level, he’s already flashed enough skill at linebacker- both inside and outside- that it rendered one of the highest-paid players on the team immediately expendable. He’s moonlighted at a completely different position just to help cover for a teammate’s absence. He ranks third on the team in tackles, leads the unit in quarterback sacks, can drop back into coverage, and splits out wide when following a back in motion. He’s taken the fifth-most snaps defensively, actually played center for that wacky desperation play at the end of the game against Tampa Bay, and has even begged coaches to let him return kicks and be the backup punter.
Off the field, he’s taken down team chess champ Amari Cooper, embarrassed Leighton Vander Esch in Connect Four, and recently came up big against Jourdan Lewis in a tense game of locker-room hamper ball.
But there’s one thing fans haven’t seen yet from Parsons: a sack dance.
Cowboys players went live on Instagram from locker room, as LB Micah Parsons competed vs. CB Jourdan Lewis. “The lion is always hungry.” CeeDee Lamb with the call.
Dallas on a four-game winning streak. pic.twitter.com/1joDUjR49v
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) October 11, 2021
The 22-year-old is emotional and fiery when he hits the gridiron, to be sure, maybe the most enthusiastically unbridled member of the surging Dallas defense. But an elaborate dance routine that calls attention to himself after a big play just isn’t in Parsons’s repertoire.
Nor has it been, for as nearly as long as he’s been playing.
“My first time ever scoring a touchdown in Pee Wee football,” Parsons recalled for reporters this week, “I celebrated. And I remember a conversation with my dad. He got mad at me and was like, ‘Man, every time you score, never do that again. Every time you score, you hand it to the ref. I never want to see you celebrate again, because I expect you to score. You don’t got to celebrate everything you do.'”
It’s a lesson he says that has been reinforced recently by Chad Bohling in his role as mental conditioning coach for the Cowboys.
“There’s actually a quote that Chad put up: ‘When you’re good, other people talk about it. You’ll never have to speak on yourself,'” Parsons explained. “It really humbled me that day [at age six or seven] because I was like, ‘Damn, my dad’s mad at me; I just celebrated after scoring a touchdown. I’d think he’d be happy for me.’ That was a big changing point in my life.”
Parsons has done what he calls his “Wolverine” move, mimicking the claw-baring stance adopted by the Marvel superhero in the movies, but it’s so quick- far more subtle than Jaylon Smith’s swipe or Vander Esch’s wolf call- that many fans likely haven’t even picked up on it.
I’ll tell you what is different this year.
Micah Parsons has given to this defense what Dak Prescott did when he walked onto the field. An unequivocal alpha whose play reflects his heart. pic.twitter.com/O8OxzqT1tc
— Pash (@TheAmir) October 12, 2021
“People tell me I got no celebration, because I never really celebrated before,” Parsons said.
He admits that it’s been a big adjustment just to join his defensive teammates in the standard post-takeaway race to the end zone to mug for the cameras.
“I’m not used to going all the way to the end zone,” the Penn State product joked. “Sometimes I’ll go with the guys, sometimes I won’t, because I’ve got that thing stuck with me, like, ‘You can’t celebrate.’ That might be some kid trauma for me.”
That lesson from Papa Parsons is still guiding Micah on Sundays.
“He said, ‘Act like you’ve been here before.’ So even though I’ve never really been here long, I want to act like I’ve been here before, because I feel like if you work hard, the success will come. And people will acknowledge you for it. So each day, I’m just trying to get better.”
Next up, Parsons will be bringing his trademark fire- and maybe a little adamantium- to Foxborough on Sunday.
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