Beaufort's Ron Parker is one of the NFL's good guys.
I know, that doesn't sound like the bar is set very high.
These days, it's easy to be down on the NFL.
The past year hasn't been kind to America's most successful professional sports league, from the Ray Rice scandal to Roger Goodell's bungling of the Ray Rice scandal to Adrian Peterson's child abuse charges to Deflate-gate and all sorts of controversies in between.
It's easy to forget that the vast majority of NFL players aren't troublemakers or criminals or cheaters. For every Rice, there are dozens of Parkers, hard-working nice guys who don't forget, like it or not, they're held to a tougher standard because they're in the spotlight.
Sometimes you just don't hear about them. Parker is proof those guys exist.
The Kansas City Chiefs (for the time being, at least) safety spent Saturday morning as Grand Marshall of the third annual Race4Love 5K Run and Walk on Cat Island.
The race was held by Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse, a Lowcountry group devoted to breaking the cycle of domestic abuse, an issue the NFL has an issue with.
Parker, who said he makes it home three to four times during the offseason, was contacted during the season and knew it was an event he wanted to attend.
For what it's worth, South Carolina ranks No. 2 in the nation for the rate of women murdered by men. The race raised funds to enable CODA to continue to provide services to survivors free of charge.
But if this was a public relations move on Parker's part, you'll never prove it by me.
Parker waited at the finish line for virtually the entire race. The first smiling face finishers saw was Parker's, his hand extended for high fives and low fives and hand shakes to the old and young, men and women, congratulating them on their effort and thanking them for their contribution.
He didn't turn down a single picture request. Not even with competitors' dogs. He drew the winning bib numbers for raffles after the race and hugged every winner.
"It's real important to be seen and be around and show what kind of a person you are and how you go about your business," Parker said just before the post-race awards ceremonies. "The kids are very big. You never know who's watching. You never know how many lives you'll impact."
Maybe his best contribution, the best to watch anyway, was taking part in a race that involved fishing conversation hearts out of a paper cup with a tiny spoon. He didn't fare so well. His defensive back skills didn't translate to this competition.
But those skills have suited the Beaufort High School and Newberry product well.
After going through the dance so many undrafted free agents take part in -- being cut, picked up, cut and picked up seemingly scores of times -- Parker found a reserve role with the Chiefs in 2013.
In 2014, he started 15 of 16 games at safety and made 94 tackles, proving a valuable part of the Chiefs' defense. He had a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and broke up 12 passes.
Now, with his contract up, Parker is ready for a new dance, the one where his agent fields offers from teams for his services.
"I love Kansas City," Parker said. "It's another home, a great home for me out there, and they were the first organization to give me the opportunity to showcase my talent."
But he knows his next home may not be K.C.
Parker, who said he'll start getting serious about contracts in the next couple weeks, said he's reached the point where he's an NFL veteran. He's not just trying to survive anymore.
"I've seen some things," Parker said. "I've done it. I'm experienced."
Parker has made it to his first real payday. His next contract should provide some security, as much as you can get in professional football, anyway.
And he deserves it.
He's one of the good guys.