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"An offensive lineman has got to stay in there. Take a beating without committing himself. That’s the only way.”
(Ohio State)...6'3'', 273...James Thomas Parker ... First full-time offensive lineman named to Pro Football Hall of Fame ... Exceptional blocker, specialized in protecting quarterback ... All-NFL eight straight years, 1958-1965 ... Played half of 11-year career at tackle, half at guard ... Played in eight Pro Bowl games ... No. 1 draft choice in 1957 ... Two-time All-American, Outland Trophy winner at Ohio State ... Born April 3, 1934, in Macon, Georgia ... Died July 18, 2005, at age of 71.
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.
All-NFL: 1960 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY) · 1961 (AP, NEA, NY) · 1962 (AP, NEA) · 1963 (AP, NEA) · 1964 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY) · 1965 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY)
All-NFL Second Team: 1961 (UPI) · 1962 (UPI) · 1963 (UPI, NY) · 1966 (NY)
All-Pro: 1958 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY) · 1959 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY)
All Western Conference: 1957 (SN) · 1959 (SN) · 1960 (SN) · 1961 (SN) · 1962 (SN) · 1964 (SN) · 1965 (SN)
(8) – 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966
Full Name: James Thomas Parker
Birthdate: April 3, 1934
Birthplace: Macon, Georgia
Died: July 18, 2005
High School: Macon (GA), V.W. Scott (Toledo, OH)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 13, 1973
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 28, 1973
Other Members of Class of 1973: Raymond Berry, Joe Schmidt
Presenter: Woody Hayes, Ohio State football coach
Pro Career: 11 seasons, 135 games
Drafted: 1st round (8th overall) in 1957 by Baltimore Colts
Uniform Number: #77 with Baltimore Colts
Jim Parker Enshrinement Speech 1973
Presenter: Woody Hayes
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen and football fans. It goes without saying that I am most honored to be here today, and I might tell you how I got here. I got here by being a substitute. I went up to Toledo some 20 years ago to substitute for the late Ivy Williams the coach of Wisconsin. He was in New York for the Hiram Award Banquet with Alan Ameche who also played with coach Ewbank. I was called the day before and invited to go there and it was that night that I saw this great athlete. He wasn't quite as big then as he is now. He weighed 220, but I went home and told my staff the next day that if I couldn't get him into Ohio State, I was going to resign and become his prize manager because I knew he would be successful in anything that he tried. He came to Ohio State and he was an immediate success. Physically he is a King in a class all by himself. But attitude wise he is even greater yet.
Sure, he was big, but he had the ability that so many big men lack-- the ability to move. And demand ever plays football that would he has an immense effect on other people. And, I would like to feel that Hop Cassidy would never have been the greatest quarterback that we have ever had, and he was definitely that in the last 22 years period, but he would never have been that great without Jim Parker. Because when we ran the quick hitter for Cassidy, it was over Parker's left hit. On the quick trap up the middle and Cassidy was an expert at it, it was always breaking off the block and in those days, we used what we called area blocking period of blocking which we still use. And, Parker always blocked the man who came into the area now as an assignment before the ball was moved, but afterwards. And, Cassidy would cut on the block and he was great on that play. On the sweep, he was better yet because of this man, and as I said last night, I've heard of people who have blocked one man and go down the field and get another period I've only seen one of them in all of my coaching and that is Jim Parker. He would pull on Hop’s sweep and cut a linebacker and run right straight through him knocking down and never breaking his stride and go down and take the safety man and Hop would go all the way for a touchdown. The thing that made the man so great--he had quick learning ability. You told Jim once and he understood. It wasn't a matter -- he knew what was going on. And on top of that, Jim had a little rule--I don't know, he said he got it from us-- I don't know, I think he got it long before that.
He had a rule that when he came through the iron gates of the South end of the stadium to go in to take his shower he would look at the iron gate and look up to the stadium and if he didn't feel that he was better than he was the day before he would turn around and go back to the practice field and block on somebody or if there was just a dummy left, he would block in it or he would go out and he'd never leave that field unless he felt that he was better than he was the day before. His ability to give himself to the team happened long before he came to the Ohio State University because he had played on a great team long before he had come to us. It is true of all your enshrinees today. Each one of them comes from a great home. As so very often you don't have to study their parents you know their family-hood long before you see that. When a man has been in a great home he has played on a great team before we get him. Then, he will fit it and this is the thing to me that is so outstanding with Jim Parker in pro ball. Sure, he was all-pro for eight years he played in the Pro Bowl game every year he was in the league. But to me the biggest thing of all, right in the middle of his career when the Baltimore Colts needed a guard because they got a brand-new tackle from Ohio State, he was a pretty good tackle but couldn't play guard. A fellow named Bob Vogel who is still playing for the Colts. So, what did Jim do? He didn't stand around and say that I've earned that tackle position-- I'm a tackle. He said, I'll play with the team needs me.
Now, it is easy to say that, but it is much more difficult to do. And, that is exactly what Jim Parker did so that last half of his pro career, he moved to the guard position. And believe me that playing guard at 270 -275 pounds is no small order. Very few men can do it. Did it have an effect on his legs? I'm sure it does because they pulled those cards on an awful lot of plays in the pros. And he ran-- It may have cut down his career, but yet since his team needed him for that position. The effect he had on other men on his team--united would never have been the man he was without a fellow like Parker to block for him because long ago before he was nominated here, I talked to a great defensive lineman in the pro League and they all throw up their hands and they say, “Jim is the best”. Without question, he is the best offensive lineman in the ball game. Long ago we discovered that in college ball because he won the Outland Award as a senior at Ohio State University. Also, two years ago he was selected the best guard in 50 years of college football. Now, there have been a lot of great guards that have played football in that 50 years, but Jim Parker was picked as the best. But all of these things are secondary to his ability to fit into a team. And, he also is a fan citizen for the very same reasons.
So, I most honor today, I've had a lot of great football players that is the reason we have got that 750 percent because of the Jim Parker and invariably when you get a Jim Parker, he has an effect on your entire football team. And, so I'm honored for a man Who has represented our University, professional football greatly in a man who came from a great home. Jim Parker's home was not a wealthy home--it was one of those good homes that has to scratch for everything it gets so with six youngsters in the family five of them have graduated from college. That is a pretty doggone record. add, a wonderful family and a very handsome family. I presume that Jim Muzzy will have you stand up. If you don't, I'll get up and make sure you do because I'm proud of this family. And, we are enormously proud of Jim Parker. Jim Parker will you come forward now please. Jim Parker.
Thank you. Mr. Commissioner, distinguished guests, Joe and Raymond. The last three days in Canton has been the happiest three days of my life. One reason coach Weeb Ewbank, coach Woody Hayes and I had the opportunity to start my career at Ohio state and finished it with coach Weeb Ewbank And I played 11 years with Raymond and I played 11 years against Joe Schmidt. So, this has been just like a reunion of the three of us. Like Raymond, I didn't prepare no speech because I have 6 to 8 much to think about what I might wanted to have said today. I would like to say to tell you fans here Canton, Ohio, and all over the country just how I got started in football. If you were at the marriage breakfast yesterday morning you saw a picture of me when I weighed 106 pounds and I wanted to be just like my oldest brother. He was a football start at Morse Brown and here I am at 106 pounds.
I look at him every time he comes home, and I idolize him, so I went to my mother one day and I said “Ma, I want to play football. She said that's good, you can be the water boy. I said I don't want to be a water boy I want to be a start like my brother on the football team. So, she said, well, why don't you give it a try. So, I went out for the high school team at 14 and 106 pounds and I came home one day so beat up blue and back all over as she said we have to fatten you up. And she started preparing all of the starchy foods for us because meat was at a ration at the time And I started working out every day and she tolerated this all the way through high school.
She was never on me about this I just worked out and I started gaining weight. And today people I would like to say that I'm just so happy to be here not that I don't deserve it, but I want to give credit where credit is due. And I would like to give credit to the two greatest people in the world who have helped me in my career. When I was having trouble at Ohio State University, I called home and I got inspiration from my mother. When I went to professional football and I said to my mother--I mean to my mother and father because they are one. She's the boss.
And I was having trouble at Baltimore with the Colts and I remember one day I called her, and I was having trouble making the team. Raymond said I had the team made because I was the first draft choice, but I kept a suitcase packed the 11 years I was there. I called home and I was worried about the past protection and they said don't worry about it and have a little faith in God and everything will be alright. And everything has been alright ever since. And, I just want to thank the people here in Canton, Mr. Gallagher and all the Hall of Fame officials for having me here this day. I just want to thank you.