WR Eric Parker (Harry How/Getty)
The Chargers have always been active with the NFL's minority coaching fellowship program. This year, the coach helping the Chargers prepare for 2009 will be a familiar face.
Former Chargers wide receiver Eric Parker has returned to Chargers Park - in a coaching capacity.
In 2004 and 2006, Parker led all Chargers' wide-outs with receptions, thanks to his uncanny leaping ability and hard-nosed approach.
But a serious toe injury after the 2006 season meant a premature retirement for Parker, which lead to him seeking different ways to stay involved with the game he loves.
"I still feel strong but I also know I can do a lot of other things besides play football," said Parker, who played in 62 games with 40 starts during his six seasons with the Chargers. "I enjoyed playing football. I miss it. There isn't a day that doesn't go by where I don't think about it. That's every competitor. I think there is a limit to pushing your body. There is nobody that still wants to play more than me. I loved it."
But with that option no longer on the table, Parker is still back on the field. And the younger players would be wise to listen to Parker, one of toughest and most diligent workers to ever wear a Chargers uniform.
Parker will work with the players' conditioning as well.
"Eric knows what it takes to be successful in this league and he can pass some of his experiences along to current players," head coach Norv Turner said. "The program is really designed to expose guys like Eric to coaching in this league."
The Chargers feature a decent list of receivers with Vincent Jackson coming off his breakout season, veteran Chris Chambers and backups Malcom Floyd and Buster Davis.
Parker is willing to do everything and anything to help his old club.
"For me, it's just being a tool at their disposal," Parker said. "I don't expect guys to call me coach because I'm not. I'm an intern. I just want to help them out if they have anything they want to work on. If they want to stay out 20 minutes, 30 minutes or two hours catching balls, that's what I'm here to do."
Parker, though, will do it in his own style. He was never one to beat his own chest and seldom said much on or off the field.
"I really want to pick the brains of all these great coaches here," Parker said. "I'm going to sit back and use my two eyes, two ears and kind of keep my mouth closed. I'm going to absorb everything and be able to take it with me for the rest of my life."