It was an early afternoon in February 2012, and in between training sessions, I was watching the NFL Combine. While watching the players run the 40-yard dash, I saw one of the corners drop a slow time, and I said to the coach next to me, “That’s going to be tough to overcome.”
A few minutes later, my cell phone rang; it was the player’s agent. “My guy just ran slow, and I was told you can fix it,” he said. “His pro day is in five weeks; can you help?”
That player’s NFL jersey hung in the Parisi Speed School Fair Lawn facility for years; I guess WE overcame the challenge. I’m not sure where that agent found my phone number, but that interaction started what would become a rite of passage for athletes who didn’t live up to their combine expectations: a trip to Fair Lawn and a crash course in every evaluation needing a do-over. Over the years, during this period of post-combine training leading up to pro day, I have helped numerous players realize their true potential and make their draft dreams come true – everyone from Panthers cornerback Josh Norman to Saints linebacker Demario Davis.
Yet, people often ask me why certain players are willing to travel to Fair Lawn, New Jersey instead of choosing closer, more convenient training options. The answer is simple: at Fair Lawn, athletic development entails more than just coaching – it’s about establishing a tradition. Over the years, that tradition has been cyclical; our ability to meet and develop NFL hopefuls stems from the ongoing success of former Fair Lawn athletes competing on the national stage.
Take Demario Davis, for example. As Davis finishes his 11th NFL season of playing in all his teams’ scheduled games, his current season might be his best. He was recently named to the 2023 Pro Bowl thanks to a regular season performance that included 6.5 sacks, over 100 tackles, and an interception. The honor is the first for a Saints linebacker since Jonathan Vilma was selected in 2010. Davis pairs his on-field consistency with his exemplary off-field leadership.
My first time meeting Davis was in 2012, as he was preparing to transition from his playing tenure with Arkansas State to, hopefully, a career in the NFL. Davis said the agency asked him if he had a preference for where to train for the combine – and that he replied, “you can send me anywhere as long as it is the best possible place to get prepared.”
Without hesitation, they said to him, “I hope you like New Jersey because that’s where the best is!” A few months later, at the combine, Davis would leave an impression that would make him a third-round selection and a future Hall of Famer.
Davis is one of many athletes keeping the Fair Lawn tradition alive, and this is evident by our continued involvement with some of College Football’s brightest young stars. For example, a few weeks ago, I met with the parents of Army defensive standout Andre Carter II. The nature of their visit was to learn about my training methodologies and determine if Fair Lawn was the right place for their son. As I looked both of them in the eyes, I ensured them that their son’s success was in great hands. If Andre succeeds, it’s a job well done by him, and if something falls short of expectations, the fault falls upon my shoulders.
Andre’s parents must have liked what they heard, as we are currently on week 4 of training. The tradition continues.