Local Leos to be Honoured
At a time when the Canucks were dwelling in mediocrity and the city was getting a face lift for the World’s Fair, the BC Lions were heralded as Vancouver’s favourite sons. Two of those sons were none other than BC bred Defensive Linemen Nick Hebeler and Rick Klassen.
The early 1980’s version of the Lions had a fearsome Defence lead by a punishing Defensive Line consisting of James “Quick” Parker, Klassen and Hebeler.
It seems fitting now that those two will reunite with Parker on the BC Lions distinguished Wall of Fame.
The distance from Simon Fraser University to BC Place is only 17 kilometres.
Yet for both Klassen and Hebeler it must have seemed like much more of an ordeal just to make it to training camp. Both starred at SFU and both went undrafted. They were asked to attend camp as the Lions were their territorial rights holders.
Without this clause they may have never entered the CFL.
Hebeler joined the Leos in 1979 and Klassen followed suit two years later. Klassen was a stalwart Defensive Tackle that could rush the passer as good as anyone in the league, amassing 66 sacks in 160 games.
He even earned top Canadian honours in the 1983 Grey Cup loss to the Toronto Argonauts.
A West Division All-Star in 1985, Klassen was essential in occupying Offensive Lineman and threatening quarterbacks so that Parker and Hebeler could run wild off the edge.
Hebeler relished in a life lived off the edge.
Known equally for his savage assaults on an offence as he was for his colour of cleats, Hebeler was just as much flash as he was fire. During his career he tallied 56.5 sacks, recovered 8 fumbles, and blocked three kicks.
He also has a pick-six under his belt. Nick was a fan favourite while in Vancouver, with his iconic orange shoes, he was the rock star face of the franchise.
For those too young to remember that 1985 squad, here’s something to consider.
They are often compared to the 2006 Lions team that also won a Grey Cup, and many consider being the finest Lion’s season ever.
If you drill down to compare the two defensive line units they are said to be equally matched.
To refresh, the 2006 D-Line had Brent Johnson, the CFL’s top Canadian and Defensive Player, Aaron Hunt was CFL Rookie of the Year, and Tyrone Williams was also a CFL All-Star.
Klassen and Hebeler helped the 1985 front four be equally tremendous and are truly deserving of being on the Lions Wall of Fame.
Note: The Wall itself is located just inside of Gate A at BC Place.
Click here to view the complete list of BC Lions Wall of Fame inductees
Cheers – The Bartender