Nicknamed “Quick” for his innate ability to get under blocks to the backfield, James Parker, born January 1, 1958 in Philadelphia, PA, is a product of elite Wake Forest University where he was an All-Conference All-American in his senior year, earning him an induction into the school’s sports hall of fame in 1997.
Parker started his record-breaking CFL career in 1980 with the Edmonton Eskimos and went straight to the Grey Cup that year, winning with the team in ’80, ’81’, and ’82. The quick-footed defensive end was an unlikely candidate for a tackle given his small stature, but his speed caught offensive linemen off guard and Parker was quickly leading the league in sacks, holding that record through the ’81 and ’82 seasons, earning him Western and CFL All-Star nods in both those years; an additional Western All-Star selection followed in 1983. In 1984, he moved to the BC Lions and broke the record for sacks in a single season that same year with 26.5, a record that still stands today. He was again named to the CFL and Western All-Star teams that season, and for the next three seasons as well, also winning a Grey Cup with the orange and black in 1985. Parker remained with the Lions until 1990 when he moved to the Toronto Argonauts for one season, retiring in 1991. He remains third in the league for most quarterback sacks all time in a regular season with 139.5. He was named the league’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player three times (’82, ’84, ’86), the Grey Cup Defensive Player of the Game (’85), and was awarded the Norm Fieldgate Trophy for Most Outstanding Defensive Player in the West three times (’82, ’84, ’86). He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2001 as a player.