Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The Great One

My great aunt passed away two summers ago. She was a wonderful woman, very much loved by her family. After the Funeral Liturgy and Mass at St Joseph's Basilica, a reception was held at a local golf club. Many were in attendence, including some Eskimo greats, as well as several current members of the Oilers organization. My Nana and Grandad, who loved their sister dearly, were telling us stories about her life, many of which involved these men. I hadn't seen or interacted with my great aunt since I was a little child, and many of the stories were new to me. Part of what was so interesting was that both my grandparents kept referring to someone in the stories, someone who was in the building, as "The Great One." Now, when a person my age hears the term "The Great One," only one person comes to mind. But that guy wasn't there. At first I thought my grandparents were confused, but after a few moments I realized that they weren't talking about Wayne Gretzky. They were talking about Jackie Parker.

My grandparents love the Oilers. Like most Edmontonians, they adore Wayne Gretzky, Kevin Lowe, and Craig MacTavish, amongst others. Yet on that day, their reverance was reserved only for Mr. Parker. It was a mystical experience, like listening to someone talk about the time they saw Shoeless Joe or Jackie Robinson play. It was eye-opening to say the least, seeing these elder members of our community speak in awe about the kindness, skills and talent of a professional athlete. He had obviously touched their lives, not only through his friendship with my aunt, but in the way he loved our city and played football. It reminded me that at one time, the Edmonton Eskimos were the favorite sons of the majority of citizens in this city. Obviously they are still beloved, but back then, there was very little competition.

Over the next few days, we will hear many more stories about Jackie Parker, and his legend will only grow. I have no doubt that one man is already working on a eulogy for Parker befitting a king. I myself will think of my grandparents, and the awe with which they spoke of him. My grandparents aren't the type of people to be impressed by celebrity or wealth. They are impressed by the character and virtues that make a man just that, a man. If my grandparents called Jackie Parker The Great One, then he most certainly was.

Jackie Parker died today. He was 74.


Already working on a eulogy befitting a king?? Boy, no pressure or anything. I don't know if I'll get around to writing about Parker (I'm not that old--he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame the year I was born), but I will urge people to watch the fleeting footage of Parker as a player now being aired in the TV obits. His arm sure didn't compare to Sam Etcheverry's, but in the open field he looks like nothing less than a 1990's running back teleported into the past. I'll never understand how the hell a white boy from Tennessee learned moves like that.

I'm still weepy from your Coffey post.

I'll never understand how the hell a white boy from Tennessee learned moves like that.

Wow, is that ever a lob. I'll let it go through my wheelhouse.

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