Jim Parker Baltimore Colts
"An offensive lineman has got to stay in there. Take a beating without committing himself. That’s the only way.”
From the moment Jim Parker joined the 1957 Baltimore Colts as their first-round draft pick, he was considered a cinch for pro football stardom. Jim had been a two-way tackle, an All-America and the Outland Award winner as the nation's top lineman at Ohio State.
Although his college coach thought his best shot in the pros would be on defense, Colts' coach Weeb Ewbank tabbed Jim as an offensive lineman. The Colts at the time were just evolving as an National Football League power and the premier passer in the game, Johnny Unitas, was the guy who made the Baltimore attack click.
Parker had little experience in pass blocking, but Ewbank was sure Parker could do the job. "It didn't take me long to learn the one big rule," Parker remembered. "’Just keep them away from John,’ Coach Ewbank told me at my first practice. ‘You can be the most unpopular man on the team if the quarterback gets hurt.' I couldn't forget that!" And Parker didn't forget.
The fact that he was assigned to protect such a famous teammate may explain why Parker seemed to attract more publicity than is usually accorded to offensive linemen. Another reason is that he was such an exceptional craftsman. In an out-of-the-ordinary twist, Jim divided his career almost evenly between left tackle and left guard.
Each job had its distinct set of responsibilities. Even the opponents were different. As a tackle, he went head-to-head against the faster, more agile defensive ends. At guard, his daily foes were the bigger and stronger defensive tackles. Parker handled both positions in all-pro fashion. At left tackle he earned All-Pro honors four straight times from 1958 to 1961.
In the middle of the 1962 season he was moved to left guard and at year’s end was named All-Pro at both tackle and guard. He then followed up with three straight seasons of earning All-Pro accolades at guard (1963 to 1965). During this period Parker played in eight consecutive Pro Bowls.