Jackie Parker holding the Grey Cup following the 1954 championship game
Date of birth: January 1, 1932
Place of birth: Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
Date of death: November 7, 2006(2006-11-07) (aged 74)
Place of death: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Career information
CFL status: Import
Position(s): QB/RB/DB/K
NFL Draft: 1953 / Round: 27 / Pick: 325
Drafted by: New York Giants
Hand: Right
Career highlights and awards
Playing stats at
Canadian Football Hall of Fame, 1971
College Football Hall of Fame
Military service
Awards: 1952 All Southeastern Conference (AP & UPI)
1952 Nashville Banner SEC MVP
1953 Cosida All-Academic team
1953 Birmingham QB Club MVP
1953 Atlanta Touchdown Club Back of the Year
1953 All Southeastern Conference (AP & UPI)
1953 Nashville Banner SEC MVP
1953 FWAA All American
1954 Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy
1956 Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy
1957 Schenley Award
1957 Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy
1958 Schenley Award
1958 Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy
1959 Dave Dryburgh Memorial Trophy
1959 Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy
1960 Schenley Award
1960 Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy
1961 Dave Dryburgh Memorial Trophy
1961 Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy

John Dickerson "Jackie" Parker (January 1, 1932 – November 7, 2006) was an American gridiron football player and coach. He was an All-American in college football and an outstanding professional football player in the Canadian Football League at the running back, quarterback, defensive back, and kicker positions. He is primarily known for his play with the Edmonton Eskimos. Later in his career, he played for the Toronto Argonauts and the BC Lions, and coached the Eskimos and Lions after his playing career ended.

Parker was named a member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976, and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1976. In November, 2006, Parker was voted one of the CFL's Top 50 players (No. 3) of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network TSN.[1]

Early lifeEdit

Parker was born on January 1, 1932, in Knoxville, Tennessee and given the name John Dickerson Flanagan. When his mother remarried, he took on the last name of her new husband, Carroll Parker.[2] He suffered through two childhood health scares. The first was when he almost died of a ruptured appendix,[3] and the second was when he suffered a flesh-eating disease that almost cost him his entire leg. Doctors wanted to amputate but Parker's mother would not allow it.[4] Parker attended Young City High School in Knoxville, and despite playing only one year of football he was named an All-City tailback. While attending high school he met and married his wife Peggy Jo, with whom he would have three children, Jackie Jr., Peggy Mae and Jerri-Jo.[5][6]

College career Edit

Jones County Junior CollegeEdit

When he first was graduated from high school Parker found that his college playing choices were limited because he was married, so he elected to play his first two years of college sports for Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi, from 1950 to 1951. In 1951, he led the Bobcat football team to a 9–0–1 record and a state title. He was also a standout baseball player helping JCJC to a South Division title and state runner-up finish in 1951 and a state championship in 1952. He was eventually inducted into both the JCJC Sports Hall of Fame[5] and the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame.[7][8] He then transferred to Mississippi State University where he spent two seasons as a member of the Bulldogs.

Mississippi StateEdit

When Parker first got to Mississippi State he once again found that his married status was a limiting factor as head football coach Murray Warmath had a policy against married players. Mississippi State baseball coach, R.P. "Doc" Patty had no such policy so Parker got a baseball scholarship and joined the team, where he was an outstanding shortstop and received an offer to play for the Cincinnati Reds. In 1952 the football coaches were in dire need of someone to run their new spit-T offense and gave Parker a chance. Early on coaches were not impressed with Parker, but then in the final scrimmage before the opening game he tossed seven touchdowns.[3]

Nicknamed "The Fast Freight from Mississippi State",[4] he was named to the 1952 and 1953 All–Southeastern Conference teams and the 1953 College Football All-America Team. In 1952, he led all NCAA Division I players in points scored, with 120.[6] Parker's 120 points were an SEC record that would stand until 1992, when it was broken by Georgia running back Garrison Hearst.[5] Parker won numerous other honors during his college career including being named the Nashville Banner SEC MVP in 1952 and 53, the Birmingham QB Club MVP in 1953 (an award he shared with teammate Hal Easterwood, who was a lineman), and being named the Atlanta Touchdown Club Back of the Year in 1953.

Parker rewrote the record books at MSU and still holds several school records.

  • Most points scored by a non-kicker in a single season with 120 in 1952 (tied by Vick Ballard in 2010).
  • Most total points responsible for in a single season with 168 in 1952.
  • Highest career yards per pass attempt at 8.518.
  • Most rushing touchdowns in a single (modern) game with 4 vs Arkansas State in 1952 (record shared with 4 others).
  • Most points scored in a single (modern) game with 29 vs Arkansas State in 1952.
  • Most points responsible for in a single game with 6 TDs & 6 PATs vs Auburn in 1952.

In addition to the records he currently holds, Parker set several records that have since been broken and remains on the top ten list in several categories at MSU.

  • 2nd most touchdowns responsible for rushing and passing in a single game with 6 vs Auburn in 1952 (broken by Dak Prescott in 2015.
  • 2nd in single season rushing TDs with 16 in 1952 behind Vick Ballard with 19 in 2010.
  • 3rd in career passing efficiency at 135.11 behind Tyler Russell's 137.3.[9] and Dak Prescott's 146.0[10]
  • 3rd in single season total TDs responsible for rushing and passing with 24 in 1953 behind Prescott's 41 in 2014 and Russell's 26 in 2012.
  • Tied with J.J Johnson and John Bond for 5th in career rushing TDs with 24 behind Michael Davis, Vick Ballard, Dak Prescott, and Anthony Dixon.
  • 7th on the all-time scoring list.
  • 10th in single season total TDs responsible for rushing and passing with 15 in 1952

On top of his exploits as the Bulldog QB, Parker was also the team's leading punt returner in 1953, the leading kick returner in 1952 and 1953, and led the team in passes intercepted in 1953 with 4.[11][12]

To go along with his athletic awards, he was named to the 1953 Cosida All-Academic team. In 1976, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.[13]

Professional playing career Edit

Once his college playing days were over Parker was drafted by both the New York Giants of the NFL and the Edmonton Eskimos of the Western Interprovincial Football Union (which became part of the Canadian Football League in 1958).[14] Despite being offered more money by the Giants, Parker chose to sign with the Eskimos in part because his former quarterbacks coach at Mississippi State, Darrell Royal, had become the Eskimos' head coach. Royal never actually coached Parker in Canada as he returned to Mississippi State as the head coach for the 1954 season.[3][15] At the end of his first season Giants owner Wellington Mara personally came calling with a contract worth almost twice what Parker was making with the Eskimos but Parker chose to not to go to New York in part because Peggy said she liked Edmonton better.[6]

Nicknamed "Ol' Spaghetti Legs", Parker became one of the most important parts of the Eskimos dynasty of the mid-1950s. While Parker played both defence and offence, a not uncommon practice in his day, his main strength was offense, where he was both a strong runner and an excellent quarterback. This is shown by his Western All-Star selections; as a running back in 1954, 1957 and 1959, and as a quarterback in 1955, 1956, 1958, 1960 and 1961. Parker won six consecutive Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophies as the West's most outstanding player from 1956 to 1961, and seven in total. He was awarded the Schenley Award as Canadian football's most outstanding player in 1957, 1958 and 1960 and was the runner-up in 1956 and 1961.

During the first three years of his career (1954–1957), the Eskimos won consecutive Grey Cups. In the 1954 Grey Cup, Parker made one of the most famous plays in Grey Cup history when, in the fourth quarter, Ted Tully hit Montreal Alouettes running back Chuck Hunsinger forcing a fumble. Parker recovered the ball and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown, giving the Eskimos, who were a large underdog in the game, a surprise victory. Parker's 90-yard fumble return remained a Grey Cup record until Cassius Vaughn's 109 yard fumble return in the 105th Grey Cup.

Following the 1962 season, the Eskimos traded Parker to the Toronto Argonauts for five players and $15,000. Parker played in Toronto from 1963 to 1965.

Parker finished his playing career with the BC Lions in 1968 when, as an assistant coach, he helped the team out of a difficult mid-season situation by donning the pads for one last go round as quarterback. At the time of his retirement, Parker, who also kicked extra points and field goals, had scored a then CFL record 750 points.

Coaching and post-football career Edit

After his playing days ended, Parker moved into coaching. Parker coached the BC Lions for part of the 1969 season and all of 1970, before moving on to the front office as general manager the next year. He stayed as general manager until being fired in 1975.

Parker coached the Eskimos from 1983 until resigning for health reasons two games into the 1987 season, with Joe Faragalli replacing him as Eskimos coach; the team would go on to win the Grey Cup that season.

After leaving football, Parker was an executive with the Interprovincial Steel & Pipe Corporation, Ltd.

On November 7, 2006, Parker died in the early morning hours at a local Edmonton hospital at age 74 due to throat cancer.[16]

Parker's awards and honoursEdit

Parker's jersey No. 91 currently hangs on the Wall of Honour at the Eskimos' Commonwealth Stadium. "Jackie Parker Park" in Edmonton, Alberta, was named in his honour. The Jackie Parker Trophy, awarded annually to the Most Outstanding Rookie in the West Division, is named after him.

Jackie Parker was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1971, the Mississippi State University Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1972, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976, and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1987. In November 2006, Parker was voted one of the CFL's top 50 players (No. 3) in a poll conducted by Canadian sports network TSN.[17]

See alsoEdit

References Edit

External linksEdit

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Template:Canadian Football Hall of Fame members

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