Legends of the Star: Everson Walls

He was told he was too slow for the NFL and would not be able to make it. He went undrafted in 1981 coming out of Grambling State University. His dream then became a reality when his hometown team signed him as undrafted free agent. Everson walls went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL and made an immediate impact from the time he stepped onto the field in 1981 for the  Dallas Cowboys.   

Everson Walls was born on December 28, 1959 in Dallas, Texas. He was raised by his mother in north Dallas just two miles from the Cowboys practice facility. Walls attended Lloyd V. Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas. He didn’t start playing football until his senior year and ended up leading the division in interceptions.

After graduating high school in 1977, Everson Walls enrolled at Grambling State University. He was invited to training camp by an assistant football coach and impressed the legendary head coach of Grambling, Eddie Robinson. Walls impressed Robinson so much that he received a full football scholarship and did not disappoint. Some of Walls accomplishments while playing at Grambling were being selected to the Kodak 1AA All-American team, the Black College All-American team and during his senior season he led the nation in interceptions. Walls gives credit to coach Eddie Robinson for helping him mature as a human being.

     In the spring of 1981 Everson Walls attended Cowboys training camp as a free agent. He was signed as a free agent and just like at Grambling State, he did not disappoint. In 1981, Walls led the NFL in interceptions with 11 as well as earning a Pro Bowl invitation as he helped lead the Cowboys to the NFC Championship game against the 49ers. Walls had seven tackles, three deflected passes, one fumble recovery and two interceptions in the game. But even though he a great game for the Cowboys, it would be one play that Walls would have his name attached to for the rest of his career. That play  would be “The Catch” by Dwight Clark as Walls was covering him that has gone down in NFL history. The play also made the cover of Sports Illustrated.   

   

Everson Walls never let the Dwight Clark play affect his play on the field. He went on to lead the NFL in interceptions again with seven in the strike shortened 1982 season, as well as nine in 1985. He also earned three more Pro Bowl honors in 1982, 1983 and 1985. He was named first team All-Pro in 1983 and second team All-Pro in 1982 and 1985. In 1986 Walls was the youngest player named to the Cowboys 25th Anniversary Team and in 1987 was named Cowboys Man of the Year. Walls was part of the Cowboys secondary led by cornerback Dennis Thurman and they became known as Thurman’s Thieves. Others who made up that group were Ron Fellows, Michael Downs, Bill Bates, Ricky Easmon, Victor Scott, and Dextor Clinkscale.

    

After playing for the Cowboys from 1981 to 1989, Walls then signed with the NY Giants in 1990. Playing safety for the first time in his career, Walls led the Giants with six interceptions. The Giants posted a 13-3 record in 1990 and went on to beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. Once again Everson Walls would make the cover of Sports Illustrated, but this time as a world champion. 

The Cleveland Browns would be where Everson Walls finished his NFL career. He played for the Browns during the 1992 and 1993 seasons before retiring. With Walls leaving the NFL, he also left behind some records. He is the only player to lead the NFL in interceptions three different times. He also led the Cowboys in interceptions a record five times. He holds the record for Pro Bowl interceptions with four. Walls is 10th all-time on the career interception list with 57. How does Walls match up to other Hall of Fame defensive players when it comes to interceptions?

Mel Renfro, 52

Willie Brown, 54

Darrell Green, 54

Lem Barney, 56

Mel Blount, 57                                                                                  

     Some other honors given to Everson Walls after retiring in 1993 were being named to the All-Time Cowboys Team. Being named to the NFL’s All Decade team for the 1980’s and in 1998 Walls was elected to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

As a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Everson Walls became close friends with running back Ron Springs. That friendship grew as both moved on with their NFL careers and onto life after football. In 2006 as Springs was suffering through diabetes and needing a kidney transplant, it was Walls who stepped up and offered one of his kidneys to Springs after finding out he was a match. In March of 2007, the surgery was done successfully giving Springs a new lease on life. Walls wrote a book titled “A Gift for Ron”, which tells of his experiences on and off the field and his decision to help Ron Springs. Walls and Springs have also started a foundation called “Gift For Life Foundation”. The site is to spread awareness about organ donation. You can find more information here. www.giftforlifefoundation.org    

Everson Walls and his wife Shreill Walls have two children and still reside in the Dallas area.

Despite Everson Walls outstanding career which includes multiple honors and records, he still remains on the outside of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Walls was a preliminary nominee for the Class of 2006, but has not reached the list for semi finalists. Is it because of Dwight Clarks catch in the 1981 NFC Championship game that is keeping Everson Walls out of the Hall of Fame? I would hope not because his NFL career speaks for itself. As a fan growing up watching Walls play I would like to think someday soon he will get serious consideration for what he truly deserves, which is a place in Canton, Ohio next to the other greats of the NFL.

Comments
  1. Is it because of Dwight Clarks catch in the 1981 NFC Championship game that is keeping Everson Walls out of the Hall of Fame?

    I don’t think it is because of The Catch. The Dallas defense was no longer dominant during the time that Walls played, and I don’t think he generally was considered the best player on the Dallas defense (most would consider Randy White the best, even as he aged). Walls wasn’t considered quite at the level of Mike Haynes, Lester Hayes, Mel Blount, Frank Minnifield, Ronnie Lott (also a safety, obviously), and Darrell Green. And of those six, Hayes and Minnifield were on the All-Decade team of the 1980s but are not in the Hall of Fame. Walls made four Pro Bowls early in his career, but he was named All-Pro only once and was not on the All-Decade team.

    Mind you, I was a fan of Walls and Thurman’s Thieves in general, but Walls probably belongs in a category with the likes of LeRoy Irvin, Hanford Dixon, and Eric Allen. Walls was a very good player with some standout years (and has career stats to show for it), but he simply didn’t accomplish quite enough to earn the Hall of Fame nod.

  2. Nice piece, by the way. Wasn’t trying to criticize the post as a whole at all.

  3. Rob V.

    I would consider Randy White the best on the defense as he aged. Who was better then White in the mid to late 80s? As for Walls I would put him with Blount, Hayes, Minnifield. I would actually put Walls ahead of Minnifield. Lott made a name for himself as a safety for most of his career. Walls doesn’t get the credit he deserves in my opinion. Minnifield only had 20 ints in his career compared to Walls 57. Lester Hayes also belongs in the HOF.

  4. robert miers

    Walls was screwed over by the cowboys. They would not give him egual pay. He took the small salary and bought insurance on his playing ability and went along and still played outstanding football.
    The Cowboys folded and gave him his true worth with a 5+ ml contract in 1987.
    They thought since he was somewhat slow and a free agent they could exploit him. He won. Steve Jones did it later with the best kicker in Cowboy history only to regret it in a major way. I chalk that one up to inexperience and bean counter influence. It must have hurt that kicker badly coming off a fantastic season. We should be paid fairly always, especially in a business hemorrhaging money and fame.
    Off Topic, a NFL strike is a bad idea for all

    Yea, you can make more money by not doing the right thing and excuse it as (good business)
    Payday loans go up to 450% and are considered “good business”
    Everson Won and will live in the hearts and minds of true Cowboy fans.
    NY Giant fans kinda think highly of him too.
    Thank you Everson for your example

  5. Raun

    A guy with more interceptions than Lem Barney, Willie Brown, etc, and who made All Pro as many time as he did and is not in the HOF? Go figure.