Protecting the Pack
Jerry Parins worked for the Green Bay Police Department for almost 30 years. In April of 1992 he received the job opportunity of a lifetime – being in charge of security for the Green Bay Packers.
Being a native of Green Bay, it was a dream come true for Parins. Since starting, he’s taken away priceless experiences from his time working with the team. And when bad news struck ten years ago, Parins turned his work towards helping people in a different way, for a different cause.
Parins says he remembers when he was a freshman in high school and his English teacher asked all the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. He said a professional football player. Even though he didn’t become that, Parins says securing a job with a pro football team was the next best thing.
Parins was familiar with the Packers organization prior to 1992, as he had worked part-time doing security since 1965. Parins says back in ‘65, spectators were walking on the practice field and disturbing practices, prompting Vince Lombardi to ask the Green Bay Police Department if it could supply some officers to control the scene. Parins was one of the officers selected to keep people off the practice field.
“That’s how I started,” Parins says. “I was honored. I love football.”
This led to him working during games as a police officer, and eventually working games directly for the Packers. “Primarily taking care of the families of the players and coaches,” Parins said.
Parins says he enjoyed being around the Packers organization, and did a wide variety of things for the team. But it was still, at the time, just a part-time job.
“Being a policeman, in the early part of their career, we never made much money,” Parins said. “Most policemen worked part-time jobs to make it go. And this was one of my part-time jobs, working football.”
Without the eventual full-time job offer from the Packers, Parins says he probably would have continued working for the Green Bay Police Department. After all, he was a captain of internal affairs when he left.
“I enjoyed police work. Police work was very good to me,” Parins said.
The new job
Parins’ hiring as director of corporate security coincided with Ron Wolf joining the Packers as general manager in 1991 and Mike Holmgren becoming head coach in 1992. Parins says Holmgren told him what he expected from the security job, which was “primarily to keep the distractions for the football team, especially during the season, to the very minimum.” Parins was allowed to do the job as he saw fit, establishing his own security procedures.
Parins says it was a great time to be part of the Packers organization because the team began winning again.
“We really established ourselves as a superior team in the National Football League,” Parins said. “It changed the whole concept of how people looked at the Packers. And I was a part of that. I’m just honored to be part of that.”
But with the new-found success, and as players became more popular nationally, came new challenges for Parins. Parins traveled with the team to road games, coordinating security for every part of the trip from the time the team flew out of Green Bay to the time it returned. One thing he established in 1992 was 24-hour security at the Packers’ hotels. This included controlling the floors and what the players did.
Parins was also responsible for the team’s security when the Packers made their two trips to the Super Bowl in the 1990s. He says that was a great challenge, involved a lot of work and didn’t allow for a lot of sleep. He admits, also, that it was fun.
Knowing the players
As director of corporate security for the Packers, Parins looked out for the players and tried to keep distractions to a minimum. By watching out for them, it was inevitable that Parins would develop relationships with players. He says since 1992 there have been very few situations where a player didn’t agree with him or disrespected him or his job. That’s something he is proud of.
During his time with the team, Parins says he developed a friendship with Brett Favre. He says the friendship was cultivated in the beginning of the legendary quarterback’s career, when Parins became very close with Favre’s parents.
“As Brett started to become a superstar he needed different things and I was able to be part of that and his family,” Parins says. “Brett came to my house when he was just a young guy. He was single. [He’d] have dinner with my wife and I. Things like that. We had that.”
Over the years Parins says Favre became bigger than life, which presented more challenges.
“I was always there for him, taking care of him, and if he needed something,” Parins said. “…He was a wild, drinking guy back in those days. There were a lot of things that I had to deal with. Complaints came in, and my job was to try and keep those stories in the house, that they didn’t get out. And I did my best to do that. There are some stories that never got out there. So I thought I did my job. That establishes a relationship.
“I was very involved when he crashed with painkillers, the Vicodin. I dealt with that, and investigated that. But the organization totally supported Brett and his family. He came out of that.”
Parins says he had a “great relationship” with Favre. “The day he left here, he gave me a hug in the parking lot back there and that picture went all over the country, me giving him a hug,” Parins says. “…[He’s] a special guy.”
Another player Parins is glad he got to know: Reggie White. Parins says White was a phenomenal man and he treasured the time he had with him.
“Once I got to know Reggie, wherever we went on the road, especially to the cities where there was a lot more African-American population, he was looked at as a leader of his race,” Parins said. “That was nice to see. I learned a lot from Reggie White about different things.”
On Feb. 6, 2003, Parins was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. He said battling cancer helped him realize a better understanding of life. Parins eventually stepped down as director of corporate security for the Packers and became a senior advisor for the organization. Parins doesn’t describe his current role with the organization as an advisor, but he still assists the football operation with training camp practices and other security items.
“Obviously once you are a policeman, you do security, it doesn’t matter how old you are,” Parins said. “It’s dealing with people and that’s what I’m doing.”
Parins is happy to say that he has been cancer free for the last 10 years.
“I’ve been very blessed with that,” Parins said. “My health has been excellent. It’s been 10 years and I feel great.”
Battling cancer also prompted him to start the Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer Motorcycle Ride Fundraiser. Proceeds from the event go to several cancer organizations that Parins supports. The cruise takes place the second Saturday of June each year, with the ride starting and ending at Lambeau Field.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of the motorcycle ride, and Parins said it was probably the most successful cruise so far, raising around $80,000. Through the first 10 years, the event has raised almost $800,000 for families affected by cancer.
“I’m very proud of that,” Parins said.
Bert Lehman is an editor for Multi Media Channels, LLC.