They may not have fully known it at the time, but the Dallas Cowboys were incredibly smart to draft Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons with their first-round pick in 2021. Some fans ridiculed the pick, but those people are all laughing now.
In case you missed the 2021 season, Parsons wasted no time showing off his speed, athleticism, and strength. As a versatile linebacker, the Penn State product collected 13 sacks, 84 tackles (20 for loss), and 30 QB hits, earning him both Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods in his first year as a pro. The rookie also had the highest pass-rush grade in the league, despite entering the NFL as a linebacker. He was also runner-up for the Defensive Player of the Year award and the first-ever unanimous Defensive Rookie of the Year winner.
These are all impressive accolades and a large part of the reason he’s become a fan favorite. But people also love the 23-year-old for his unstoppable competitiveness. Whether he is hitting homers in charity baseball games, beating teammates in chess, scoring baskets in pick-up basketball, or taking down quarterbacks on Sundays, one thing we know about Parsons is that he doesn’t like to lose.
That competitiveness is something Cowboys owner Jerry Jones really admires, too. In fact, Jones compared his second-year linebacker to one of the greatest competitors in all of sports: legendary boxer Mike Tyson.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones compares linebacker Micah Parsons to Mike Tyson
Jones started off by telling the press that he thought Tony Romo was one of the greatest competitors he’s had in the franchise, but Parsons’s drive is different. Here’s the full quote:
"“I thought (Tony) Romo was probably as pure a competitor, certainly equal to anybody I’ve been around. He’d flip a coin for us right here to see who gets this white line first. He just came looking for gaming and competitiveness, and Tony was competitive in every way, physically and otherwise.Parsons is unique in that he’s competitive in the most challenging physical areas. Think about that just a minute. He’s competitive in the defensive line area. He’s competitive where you are the force and your open field physical area, you are the force. I don’t want to make more of it than it is, but he brings a competitive spirit that is Mike Tyson-esque.”"
If you asked Parsons, he’d probably agree. Back in March, he told NFL broadcaster Rich Eisen that he looks to famous sports legends for inspiration and grit. The linebacker watches videos of athletes like Muhammed Ali, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and the person his team’s owner compared him to in order to get pumped up before games.
A video about Tyson titled, “A Lesson in Intimidation” is one that Parsons particularly likes.
These videos are likely still on his most-watched list as the young defender heads into his second year in the NFL with many wondering whether he can repeat his success in Year 2. But those who know Parsons should know this linebacker will stop at nothing to be the best at anything:
"“I truly believe if you really love the game there’s nothing, no matter if it’s a scrimmage, I don’t care if we’re playing pickup basketball in the rec, my team is winning by 21. I don’t care what game it is, I’m going to try to win. That’s what a true competitor is. If you don’t have that competitiveness, I wouldn’t want to play with you. “I even get mad at my sister when we play Scrabble. Why are you closing the board up? It doesn’t make sense. I don’t care what it is, we can play Monopoly. You make a dumb trade, are you trying to win? You know? That’s what a true competitor is. It doesn’t matter.”"