The votes have been counted, the results are in and Lions fans of all ages have selected Willie Fleming, Jamie Taras, Geroy Simon, Al Wilson, Jim Young and Lui Passaglia as their top six BC Lions over the past 60 seasons.
“On behalf of the BC Lions, my sincere congratulations go out to each of these players,” said president and CEO Dennis Skulsky. “They have represented our club with professionalism and class, and it’s not a coincidence that each is a former Grey Cup champion or a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. They are, and always will be, the Pride of all BC.”
In weeks of friendly debate that saw thousands of votes cast, 60 Lions players selected from the inaugural 1954 squad through present day teams went head-to-head as fans determined their top six BC Lions of all time.
“With the deep and rich history our organization has enjoyed over the past 60 seasons, I know there were no easy selections,” added Skulsky. “The mix of eras that these men represent speaks not only to the number of amazing players that have been part of our team, but how they have touched the lives of Lions fans over six decades.”
More on the Top 6 of 60:
Willie joined the Lions in 1959 from Iowa after the Rose Bowl and made an immediate impact despite his 5’ 9” frame. He was the club’s leader in total offence in each of his eight seasons compiling an incredible 12,465 combined yards. He recorded a pair of 1,000 yard rushing seasons (1960 and 1963), three CFL All-Star selections and holds the club record for career rushing yards at 6,125. His career rushing average of 7.1 yards is the top mark for any running back in the history of the CFL and his 87 TDs is second behind only Geroy Simon.
A third round pick in the 1987 CFL Draft from Western Ontario, Jamie went on to play 16 seasons for the Leos and ranks in the CFL’s top 15 games-played. He was named a CFL All-Star four times (1995, 1999, 2000 and 2002) at two positions and captured the Becket-Demarco Trophy as the West’s Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 1995. Jamie saw action in 12 playoff years and three Grey Cup games and (outside of Lui Passaglia) holds the club record for most regular season games played at 264. A versatile player, Jamie made the conversion from fullback and special teams player to the offensive line in 1991 and constantly found ways to contribute to the team in unheralded ways.
Offensive linemen rarely notch statistics of any kind, but one set of numbers stands out for a Lions club with Al Wilson at centre. Between 1977 and 1986 with Al anchoring the offensive line, the Leos compiled a mark of 101-56-5 (.639), the best 10-year stretch in club history to that point. Al played a big role in that turnaround and his selection to seven-straight (1975 to 1981) West Division and CFL All-Star teams recognized that achievement. He received the West’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award three times and CFL’s Schenley Award in 1977. Al missed games in only one of his 15 seasons with the club, saw action in 12 playoff contests, and was a key member of the 1985 championship squad. He still ranks in the league’s top 30 for games played at 233 and was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
When the Lions acquired the rights to Jim Young from Toronto and Minnesota of the NFL, he started a career that would see him play 13 seasons and nearly 200 games at four positions. Known as “Dirty 30”, Jim brought a swagger and aggressiveness to the team that had been lacking since the early 1960’s. Jim led the team in receiving in his first nine seasons as a halfback, slotback, wide receiver and tight end. He set the Lions’ all-time receiving record as a rookie and surpassed that total two more times before retiring in 1967. His mark of 1,362 yards in 1972 stood up as the club record until 1981 and his all-time marks of 9,248 yards and 65 touchdowns rank second behind Geroy Simon. He is one of only three Lions to surpass 10,000 combined yards and was a dominant CFL receiver despite playing with 23 different quarterbacks over his career. Jim was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
Lui joined the Lions in 1976 as the fifth pick in the CFL Draft and over the course of the next 25 seasons, he led the Lions in scoring 24 times and the West Division on four occasions. Lui was first professional player to record a 200-point season and set a CFL record with 52 field goals (since eclipsed). Chosen to the West Division All-Star team nine times and honoured as an All-Canadian on four more occasions, Lui is the all-time leading scorer in professional football. In addition to numerous team records, he holds all-time CFL mark of 3,991 points, 875 field goals, 1,045 converts and 309 singles and ranks as the second leading punter of all-time. He made a team-record five Grey Cup appearances and kicked the winning field goal from 38 yards on the final play of the 1994 championship in front of a home crowd at BC Place. Lui kicked seven field goals in one game twice, recorded 210 career playoff points and another 55 in Grey Cup action. He was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
Geroy played 194 games with the Lions from 2001-12 and departed the club as its all-time leader in receiving yards (14,756) and touchdowns (93). Currently the CFL’s all-time leading receiver with 15,950 yards (and counting), Geroy was the league’s Most Outstanding Player 2006 and enjoyed two Grey Cup championship with the Lions in addition to seven CFL All-Star selections.