It’d be nice to still see them in Orange
The B.C. Lions were founded in 1954, and despite the relatively small size of the Canadian Football League, they had but five championships entering last season.
Therefore, the fact that they miraculously won the Grey Cup after they somehow crawled out of the deep, deep hole they had conspired to dig for themselves with an opening 0-5 record, made the victory the sweetest of treats.
The team furthermore saw the emergence of several new fan favourites as well in Canadian running back Andrew Harris, import linebacker Solomon Elimimian, and of course quarterback Travis Lulay (yet another red head on the Vancouver sports scene).
If the Lions can keep this group together, they have the potential to quickly add to their list of cup triumphs.
As good as this team was, imagine how fearsome they could be with some of these past Lions greats.
5. Swervin’ Mervyn Fernandez
The tall (6’ 3”) receiver had excellent hands and, as the nickname suggests, a litany of moves to create space and separation from defensive backs.
He earned both the CFL rookie of the year award, as well as the Most Outstanding Player award in his time with the Lions, and was a part of the Grey Cup championship team under Don Matthews in 1985.
Fernandez was one of a few CFL veterans who would go on to a successful career as well in the NFL. In his case, it was with Al Davis’s LA Raiders where he holds the team’s career record for average yards per catch (18.01).
4. Roy Dewalt
Doug Flutie gets a lot of the love and attention for his flamboyant, scrambling style of game, but for my money (what little there is) Roy Dewalt was a better quarterback for the Lions.
He formed a great partnership with Swervin’ Mervyn and helped the Lions reach the finals twice, winning in 1985, and losing by just a point (18-17) to the Argos in 1983.
He would be a great back-up to Lulay.
3. James ‘Quick’ Parker
Despite the fact he had previously played for the insufferable Edmonton Eskimos, Parker was readily accepted by the Lions faithful thanks to his dedication on the field.
He was a key part of that magnetic ’85 championship team as a defensive end and linebacker, and was recognized as the CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player twice with the Lions. In TSN’s Top 50 CFL players of the modern era, ‘Quick’ was placed 21st.
2. Cameron Wake
Wake had a very brief career with the Lions (just two seasons), since he was quickly snatched up the NFL’s Miami Dolphins on the back of consecutive CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player awards in 2007 & 2008.
Wake had a range of raw physical tools, with length, devastating speed and prodigious strength. Together with ‘Quick’ Parker, they could have formed a lethal bookend of pass rushing twins.
1. Lui Passaglia
The man from East Van was a true home based player, growing up in the lower mainland and played high school football at Notre Dame before continuing on at Simon Fraser University, and eventually being drafted by the Lions.
He was a true gentleman, being involved in many local charities and community drives. Most importantly, he was a great kicker/ punter and was a key part of three Grey Cup victories (half of the Lions total of six championships).
The Not-So Bonus Pick
A player the Lions could have done without…Major Harris.
The Syracuse University product was marketed as a quarterback saviour but managed one very unmemorable, injury plagued year.
He was unable to run the offence properly even when he was in the line-up and made a quick exit.