Parks: Always a Team Player Perry Parks can hardly believe it will soon be over and that he will soon be, for all intents and purposes, a free agent. This Friday, when Perry walks out the door of his Comcast office in Los Angeles, it will be for the last time as a member of the cable industry. And for Parks, a 25-year cable veteran who once played for both the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints of the NFL, Friday evening will also mark the first time since he was a small boy that he will not be a member of a team. "It’s a little unsettling," admitted Parks when we spoke this week, "but on the same token I’ve always been a half-full glass sort of guy, so I’d like to believe the future holds for me great opportunity." Parks, who most recently performed public affairs duties for Comcast and who for over a quarter of a century lived and breathed cable operations, is retiring. At 61, he wants to see what else is out there; to discover what new mountains he might be able to climb. I heard about Perry’s retirement a few days ago when I received an unsolicited email from one of his former bosses. And, sure enough, when I started to call people Perry had known over the years, the reaction was remarkably similar. All I had to do was utter the three syllables of his name, stand back and let the accolades flow. My favorite response was from Comcast’s VP of State Government Affairs, John Gibbs. Gibbs, who was out of pocket at an off-site meeting, heard I was doing a column on Perry and immediately broke free to return my call. His message said in part, "Perry is the ultimate elegant package; thoughtful, articulate and principled." The message included words like "class" and "dignity," and went on to claim that Perry was largely responsible for making cable in Southern Los Angeles a reality. Perry and I ended up talking for well over an hour about a number of things, including: the many MSOs he’s worked for (Communicom, United Artists, American Cable, Continental, US West, Time Warner and Comcast); the people who most deeply influenced his career (including Ron Cooper, who taught Perry about numbers and measuring progress quantitatively, and Dave Keefe, who taught Perry about attention to detail by once pointing out that since the system’s previous general manager hadn’t bothered to ensure the dumpster was emptied regularly, there’s a good chance the batteries in the stand-by power supplies were bad – which, indeed, they were.); and his NFL career (he was a 6’5" 255-lb. defensive end trying to find playing time behind NFL sack king, Deacon Jones, the leader of the Ram’s legendary "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line.) Parks also talked with great pride about how the people in his system handled the Rodney King riots of the early 90s. As the GM of the South Central LA-system, the epicenter of the riots, he said he originally called his technical crew in, but the techs asked if they could keep working. Perry’s pride in his crew’s pride is something that remains evident to this day. So what is going through his mind as he enters his last week in cable? "Obviously, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking this week," he said. "I’m not sure I’ve come up with any absolutes yet, but I’ll tell you this: I’m delighted to say I worked in an environment that was full of teamwork, full of camaraderie. We worked hard and we played hard. I’m not sure that’s unique, but I sure feel blessed to be able to say it."

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