Joseph Robert Fourqurean
Born: January 6, 1950 (Covington, Va.)
Died: November 19, 2013 (Columbus, Ohio)
B.C. Lions Wall of Fame (2011)
Bluefield Athletic Hall of Fame (2012)
Joe Fourqurean was a stalwart in the B.C. Lions defensive backfield for eight seasons. He snagged 15 interceptions in 122 CFL games. A fan favourite, he was named to Lions Dream Teams compiled in 1984 and 1994. He was also named to the club’s 50-year Dream Team. He was placed on the B.C. Lions Wall of Fame two years ago.
He is best remembered for a play late in the 1977 West semifinal against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He had been having a miserable game, suffering a concussion when accidentally kicked in the head on the opening kick-off. He was beaten on a 65-yard touchdown pass and run by Mike Holmes in the first half. Holmes then beat him for a 58-yard major in the third quarter. After the second touchdown, defensive captain Grady Cavness spoke to Fourqurean and discovered he’d been knocked senseless at the start of the game. Trainers then applied ice to his head before he returned to play.
The Lions were nursing a 33-32 lead with less than two minutes left in the game. The Bombers were deep in their own end, when Dieter Brock spotted an open Holmes streaking unmolested into the Lions backfield. It looked like another case of blown coverage. As Brock’s pass neared Holmes, Fourqurean jumped into the air to get a finger to the ball, deflecting it just enough to preserve the victory.
After the play, as the crowd at Empire Stadium cheered, Fourqurean turned to Cavness, the safety, to ask, “What’s the score?”
After regaining his senses, Fourqurean said: “I was playing him deep because I thought Brock would like to go for the bomb. Holmes ran a post patter and I just jumped up and knocked it away.”
The columnist Jim Taylor wrote Fourqurean finally got around to viewing his season-saving play on the game films days later. “I can’t jump that high,” he said.
Fourqurean came north to play for the B.C. Lions after a stellar collegiate career at Bluefield State College, an historically black college at Bluefield, W.V. He earned First Team all-conference honours in 1971 and ’72. Scouted by the Green Bay Packers, he was not drafted and did not make the squad, but the scout recommended him to the Lions.
After retiring from football in 1981, he returned to the United States, where he taught arts and sciences at public schools in Columbus, Ohio. He was a manger with the U.S. Postal Service at the time of his death, aged 63.
He returned to Vancouver two years ago to be inducted, alongside Sean Millington, into the B.C. Lions Wall of Fame durign half-time of a game against the Calgary Stampeders at BC Place Stadium. Earlier, he toured the Lions’ practice facility in suburban Surrey. He played his entire career at a time when the Lions called Empire Stadium home and practiced at whichever school field was available.
“The used to tease us about not stepping on goose poop when we went to the park,” he told Mike Beamish of the Vancouver Sun.