New York Jets: Tommy Parks

A long-ago hoax: The ageless punter

January, 17, 2013
1/17/13
5:55
PM ET
The Manti Te'o saga, which has gripped the country for about 24 hours, brought back memories of another hoax -- the curious case of Tommy Parks.

Let me start by saying this doesn't even begin to approach the Te'o situation in terms of gravity; it's just a quirky little story that came back to me upon hearing about Te'o.

Parks was a free-agent punter for the Jets in 2001, Herm Edwards' first year as coach. Parks had an interesting backstory and, on a slow day in training camp, he captivated a few writers with his journey as an itinerant punter.

He was born in Tupelo, Miss., Elvis Presley's birthplace. He talked like Elvis, looked like Elvis around the sideburns (classic mutton chops) and sang Elvis songs. Teammates called him Big E. He punted at Mississippi State and traveled the world, playing winter-league baseball and minor league football.

That's what he told us, anyway.

While checking into his background, I discovered a discrepancy with his age. Parks told reporters he was 29 (born Oct. 14, 1971, the date listed in the Jets' media guide), but his actual birth date was Oct. 14, 1968.

Turns out that, in previous tryouts, he also lied to the 49ers and Chiefs, giving them 1970 and 1971 dates for their media guides.

Confronted by New York reporters, Parks came clean, confessing he fibbed to help his chances of sticking in the NFL. The Jets admitted they were duped, but then-GM Terry Bradway said Parks' age was no big deal, claiming, "He's 29 in leg years."

Because of an injury to the regular punter, Tom Tupa, Parks punted on opening day. He punted five times, one of which was returned for a touchdown. He was cut a few days later and never played another game in the NFL.

Whatever became of Tommy Parks?

A month ago, the Health & Wellness Channel announced in a press release that the "former NY Jets and San Francisco 49ers NFL punter, and professional baseball player" would host a high-intensity fitness show called "The Training Camp." He apparently became a fitness guru in Tampa.

His job, in a sense, is to make people look and feel younger. Kind of ironic, isn't it?

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