By CHRIS SIERS
Former Cascade football player Aaron Parker has always been involved in football.
From playing at Cascade to becoming an equipment manager while attending MTSU, he’s has always had a passion for being on the field.
While his playing career is in the past, his path has continued to keep him on the gridiron well after graduation as he fell on a route that led him to work with the Green Bay Packers.
“Once I graduated from Cascade in 2015, I enrolled at MTSU. My father happened to coach the Director of Football Operations at MTSU at the time, and he was able to get me a spot with the equipment department for the football team. Working there, I began learning all about the ins and outs of the equipment business, which I am still actively doing to this day,” Parker said. While in school at MTSU, Parker landed an internship with the Tennessee Titans, and the rest is history.
“Going into my junior year, our head equipment manager was contacted by the equipment manager for the Tennessee Titans looking for someone to be a training camp intern for them. Knowing that this was what I wanted to do, he gave them my name. That summer was my first summer with the Titans. It was a dream come true, working along side the players that I got to watch every Sunday,” Parker said.
After getting that initial work experience in the NFL, it became a “now or never” situation for him to make his career path.
Having graduated from MTSU in 2021, Parker began teaching math at Oakland High School and had an epiphany of jumping on his dream, then and there.
“During spring break I remember thinking, ‘If I want to work in the NFL as an equipment manager, I have to do it now.’ The next day, I updated my resume, cover letter, and reference sheet, looked up the addresses of 20 different NFL teams, and mailed them out. That next Monday I began receiving emails from a few different teams telling me that they received my resume and that they were impressed, but they had already filled all their positions,” he said.
While the filled positions initially felt like a missed opportunity for Parker, fate came calling soon after.
“Feeling like I was too late, I started to move on and continue focusing on teaching. One day as I was driving home, I received a phone call from Red Batty, the head equipment manager of the Green Bay Packers. He said that he had just got off the phone with the equipment manager for the Titans that I worked with, and he gave me great reviews. He then went on to offer me a job as a seasonal equipment manager, the position I hold today.”
As an equipment manager with the Packers, Parker gets plenty of daily interactions with the team and still puts time in on the field. “Some of the things I do everyday are to help set up and break down practices, help clean, re-decal, and maintain the helmets after practices and games, shooting the jugs machine (a machine that simulates a quarterback’s pass or punter/kicker’s kick) to any players wanting to catch some footballs, and help process the players, coaches, and staff laundry,” he said.
Having first-hand interactions with some of the biggest players on the biggest stage in the NFL has certainly created its memorable moments and two stand above for Parker.
“There have been two main things that I remember that when they happened, I knew that my hard work had paid off. The first was when I caught my first pass from Aaron Rodgers. I remember it was the first day of training camp last season, and I was told that when we were going into our special teams period, I would go help the quarterbacks with their drills, “Parker said.
“When I got to the quarterbacks, they instructed me to stand 15 yards away at the top of the numbers, and to catch the passes from the quarterbacks. Naturally Aaron was the first up. I can still see him going into his drop, then firing a missile straight toward my forehead. Once the ball hit my hands, it just stopped and nestled in as if it wanted to be caught. As I threw it back into the rotation, I thought, “Yeah, that was pretty cool.”
While catching passes from Aaron Rodgers was among the memorable moments, another that stood out came a little closer to home for Parker.
“The other was during our game against the Titans last season. It was Thursday Night Football, and right before kickoff it began snowing. Standing on the sidelines, I remember a hand grabbing me and start pulling me and placing me in a certain spot. I look over my shoulder, and it’s my boss Red Batty, our Head Equipment Manager,” Parker said.
“He then tells me to take a second and look around. I remember the lights being on, the stands are packed with excited fans. This includes my father, uncle, cousin, and friend. The snow falling. Then Mason kicks the ball off. Red says, “You’re standing on the 50-yard line at kickoff of the Green Bay Packers’ game against your childhood team.” With all that soaking in, I couldn’t help but think I was doing something special.”
Currently, his position with the Packers is a part-time position, but he hopes to continue his career in the NFL.
“As of right now I am a Seasonal Equipment Manager. That means I am a part-time employee for the Packers. My goal is to one day be a full-time equipment manager in the NFL. Right now, who knows what the future holds or what team that could be with. As of right now, I love Green Bay and the Packers organization, and would love to spend the rest of my career here,” he said.
It’s not every day a Bedford County native makes it in with one of the biggest professional sports teams in the world, but Parker has some words of advice for people with big dreams.
“To the people that want to do something similar to me and go the the next level, I feel that it comes down to three things: do your research, don’t be afraid to make relationships, and take the leap. Doing your research means to know the steps to get to your ultimate goal. For me, it was to go work equipment in college, work my way into working a training camp internship, working seasonal internships, then hopefully making it full time,” he said.
The diligence and patience of putting in the work is just a part of chasing a dream, he added.
“It takes time, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t happen quickly. Building relationships is also a major key. Without the relationships I built at MTSU and with the Titans, there is no way I would have ended up where I am today. That means go and have conversations with anyone and everyone. Lastly, take the leap. This one was the hardest for me. My leap was moving across the country, away from everything and everyone I’ve known, in pursuit of my goal. Being very close to my friends and family, it was not an easy decision. After talking it over with them, I knew that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Although it was all new and different, I feel like I’ve made the right decision.”