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Micah Parsons: Eat, Survive & Endure

Micah Parsons feasted all September, but he’s still hungry. The Cowboys star tells Boardroom what drives him on and off the field.

Micah Parsons‘ natural state is hungry and ambitious.

“Feasted all September,” the Dallas Cowboys all-world linebacker wrote on Instagram while celebrating his NFC Defensive Player of the Month award.

“I’m just hungry, bro,” he proclaimed on a collab post with the Cowboys on Sept. 19 following a dominant win over the New York Jets.

“Welcome to the mf lions den!” a Sept. 14 post from the former Penn State Nittany Lion read. “Eat or starve!! #lionisalwayshungry.”

In just his third NFL season, the 24-year-old Parsons has quickly emerged as one of the league’s most dynamic and dominant players. He has been an All-Pro in both his seasons and won the 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year award in a unanimous vote. NFL Network ranked him the ninth best player in football the summer after finishing eighth in MVP voting and second in Defensive Player of the Year voting with 13.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries.

As part of a partnership with Dave & Buster’s, Parsons — whose go-to arcade game is pop-a-shot — explained to Boardroom how his drive and hunger had to start from a young age while growing up in Harrisburg, PA.

“‘I can’t do anything extra for you,'” Parsons recalled his mom saying to him. “‘You got to make it on your own. I can only provide what you have to send to school, but you have to make a life for yourself.’ And I guess I just always had that in the back of my mind. I have to be good. I have to get better. I wanted to change my surroundings and what I had. So it came real early.”

That mindset drives Parsons to be competitive at everything he does, with the confidence to excel at anything as well, be it chess, NBA 2K, or a game of Taboo. The 6-foot-3 pop-a-shot aficionado believes he could’ve made the Penn State basketball team had he tried. Parsons has never bowled a perfect 300, but recalled a 287 game several months ago where the only strike he didn’t knock down was in the fifth frame.

“There’s two types of people in this world,” Parsons said. “There are the hunters and there’s the hunted. You got to make life for what you have, and no matter what, you have to eat, survive, and keep going. No matter what obstacles are in front of you.”

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Parsons is certainly a hunter on the field, whether rushing the passer, stopping the run, or taking on running backs and tight ends in pass coverage. The 12th pick in the 2021 draft excels despite constant double-teams and opposing offensive coordinators game-planning against him each week. To counteract that, Parsons said he likes to switch things up in his moves and tries to be as dynamic as possible, trying new things and aiming to never be comfortable in his approach.

Getting inspiration from Hall of Famers like Derrick Brooks and Reggie White or current stars like Myles Garrett and Von Miller, Parsons manages to keep his techniques fresh — a constant threat to other offenses. He was a major reason why Dallas finished fourth last year in total sacks, fifth in scoring defense, and ninth in opponents’ third down percentage. Heading into Sunday’s showcase matchup against New England, the Cowboys are third in scoring defense, fourth in yards allowed per game, fourth in sacks, and fourth in third down percentage.

Parsons’ hunger extends to off-field pursuits, whether that’s a slew of endorsement deals like Nike, New Era, and SWBC, investment pursuits, or The Edge, a podcast he started this season with Bleacher Report that he said could lead to a post-playing career in media. Being the best player on the most popular and valuable team in America’s most popular sport inevitably opens a lot of doors. That includes getting real estate advice from Alex Rodriguez, a strong mentor for someone who said he’d like to be more involved in the commercial real estate space.

As for a dream business partner? Parsons looked to the NBA, mentioning legends like Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal.

“They’re like heroes in the black communities, to be honest,” he said. “Overall, a lot of people have been in my corner trying to help me grow, which has been amazing.”

While major awards like DPOY appear to be within Parsons’ grasp, he said that individual awards don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.

“I realized if you put all your mind and labors into individual awards, they don’t seem that significant when you get them,” Parsons said. “Things are better when you can share the moment with people. When people understand the moment you’re in, what it took to get there, the hardships, the grind to victory, it just means more. So I like Super Bowls better, but as long as you handle your business, all of those other things are going to come.”

Those other things could eventually include the largest contract ever for an NFL defensive player. Parsons is on the third year of a four-year, $17 million rookie contract with a fifth-year option Dallas will likely exercise. Nick Bosa recently inked a five-year, $170 million extension with the San Francisco 49ers that includes $122.5 million guaranteed. By the time Parsons gets his extension, will he become the league’s first $200 million defender? $250 million?

“I feel like the opportunity is there for me,” Parsons said. “I just have to keep working hard, keep committing myself to my game and my teammates, and hopefully one day earn or achieve that type of goal. But for right now, I just got to work and go win the Super Bowl.”

Yes, Micah Parsons remains hungry for more.

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.