One of the best defensive players in Canadian Football League history passed away on Monday. James Parker, a terrific defensive end and linebacker, died at the age of 60. Parker played 12 seasons in the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos (1980-1983), British Columbia Lions (1984-1989) and the Toronto Argonauts (1990-1991).
In his first three seasons as a CFL player, Parker was a Grey Cup champion. He added a fourth Grey Cup with the Lions in 1985.
Parker’s nickname was simply “Quick”, as he was known for quickly getting by the opposition’s offensive linemen and to the quarterback. Parker played 160 CFL games and had 139.5 sacks, the fourth most in CFL history. Parker only trails Grover Covington (157), Elfrid Payton (154) and Bobby Jurasin (142) on the all-time list. Parker also holds the CFL record for most sacks in a season (26.5), which was set with the Lions in 1984.
Three times Parker was the CFL’s most defensive player (1982, 1984 and 1986) and was the CFL’s most outstanding defensive player in the 1985 Grey Cup game, which was won 37-24 by the Lions over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It was also the first Grey Cup I ever saw.
Speaking of defensive players, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed cornerback John Ojo. A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Ojo has CFL experience as he was with the Eskimos when they won the Grey Cup in 2015. That year he was a CFL All-Star with 43 tackles and five interceptions. In 2016, Ojo did not play with the Eskimos because he injured his Achilles in training camp and then joined the New York Jets practice roster in 2017. Ojo is now reconnected with Chris Jones, who was his coach with the Eskimos and is now with the Roughriders as their head coach and general manager.