G38: Glenn Parker

From Hero to Mentor with Glenn Park

Glenn Parker is a former NFL offensive lineman and one of a few select players to have played in five Super Bowls. He was initially drafted in the third round in the 1990 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills and went on to play for the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants. He became the only offensive lineman in team history to be elected MVP by his teammates, also winning the Ed Block Courage Award from the NFL along the way.

Glenn was always a good athlete, but he struggled through adolescence because he was slower to develop. Before he had his growth spurts and filled out, he found that he was a good listener and learned to become a good communicator. And because he was able to have real conversations with adults, he had several mentors at a young age. It wasn’t until the later years of high school that his body started to match his interests, but it was this initial mismatch that helped him develop many of the valuable skill sets he has now and used as a professional athlete.

Although Glenn grew up in high school, physically, he still wasn’t particularly fit or mature—but he did a lot of maturing through the coaching process. He had a chip on his shoulder from being an odd, nerdy kid, and that ended up driving him.

He carried that chip on his shoulder most of his life. He went through a lot of emotional trauma due to all of the drastic transitions, many of his own doing, and he grew up wanting to prove people wrong. And that chip manifested itself in ways that served him in football and in the locker rooms, but it was also damaging to his personal relationships.

Even after finally making it into the NFL, it still drove him. You never feel like you’ve “made it” in the NFL because, any year, you could lose your job if you start to slip. So he used that chip on his shoulder, his determination, and his practiced communication skills to stay on top of his game.

He retired after the 2001 season, shifting to be an analyst on the NFL Network’s “Playbook” and the main college football analyst for the CBS College Sports Network’s “The AFL on NBC. Almost two decades later, Glenn was given the opportunity to help with alumni relations and fundraising.

Now he’s transitioning again, and this time he’s bringing things full circle by becoming a coach and mentor. Glenn credits his success to the great coaches and mentors in his life, and he sees it as his duty to be that mentor for the next great heroes.

What Brett asks:

  • [01:59] Can you tell us about your early childhood?
  • [07:47] How did you find your confidence and self-awareness?
  • [13:13] How did that chip on your shoulder serve you or hold you back?
  • [18:01] How did you get into college football?
  • [24:51] What’s it like to be in the NFL?
  • [29:00] What was your first Super Bowl like?
  • [33:11] What was it that turned you into a leader of the locker room?
  • [42:13] What are you doing now?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • Sometimes we feel misunderstood by others when it could also be that we haven’t been showing our true selves to people. Don’t be afraid to show who you are, and don’t blame others for not recognizing what you haven’t demonstrated.
  • Growing up with a chip on your shoulder, having something to prove, can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s a powerful motivator to get things done, to persevere, and to fight against the opposition. On the other hand, it can harm the ways you relate to and connect with others. Know when it is serving you and when it is hurting you and set it aside.