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.    

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.

After All These Years…Everyone Still Talks About “The Catch”…

The six most important yards in 49er history were gained in a way that was awfully close to poetic. Even a cynic would have to admit that much.

Joe Montana rolled right, holding the ball, tapping it once or twice. You’ve seen it, over and over and over. Dallas Cowboys linemen in pursuit, the fans in the orange Candlestick background standing with their mouths open and their hearts firing like a Briggs and Stratton.

It was called Sprint Right Option, and it was third and three from the six-yard line, with less than 90 seconds to play in the 1981 NFC championship game. The 49ers trailed the Cowboys by six points, and Montana was rolling out so deliberately that the sideline became a concern.

To the untrained eye, it appeared Montana was wandering right, hoping more than devising, maybe even looking for a way out. But by that time, with Montana and the 49ers proceeding deep into their first — and most improbable — Super Bowl run, everybody had learned to admire and not question.

He threw it, finally, off his back foot and slightly across his body. His flamingo legs scissored a little from the torque, and it looked for the entire world like a throwaway, with everybody walking back to the huddle to confront fourth down.

But Dwight Clark caught it. He reached above the unfortunate immortality of Everson Walls and caught the ball in the back of the end zone. Those faces in the stands thawed into a delirium of incredulity and joy. Back then, the idea of a Super Bowl was new and unexpected. 

Clark seemed to spike the ball before he landed. Clark later said “his mind raced with disbelief and excitement”. “The thought that we were going to the Super Bowl was incredible”. He was so excited that he didn’t realize they had to kick the extra point to win the game. He just figured they had scored and it was over.

At the time, no one had any idea what it would come to mean. Nobody did. Nobody realized how bitter the San Francisco fans were toward the Cowboys. No one paid any attention to what happened in the early 1970’s.

There was some history lurking in the background of “The Catch”, as well. In the 1980 regular season, the Cowboys beat the 49ers 59-14, scoring until they simply could not score again. Then, in the ’81 regular season, the 49ers beat the Cowboys 45-14, prompting the Dallas players to say the real Cowboy team didn’t show up.

The Cowboys were looking forward to seeing the 49ers again. Once again it was the same result.

Clark was not the primary receiver on what became the signature play of the Montana legend. In fact, the 49ers had scored a touchdown in the first quarter on the very same play — Sprint Right Option — when Montana hit Freddie Solomon, the first option. But this time Solomon slipped coming off the line of scrimmage and Montana’s assignment — as per the intricate dealings of Bill Walsh — called for him to continue to roll out, and continue to hold the ball until Clark could slide into position.

The play was designed so that by the time he threw it, the ball either goes out of bounds or is caught. The now 49ers’ Director of Player Personnel has been asked many times. “Was Montana trying to throw the ball away”? Clark simply answers, “No, it was a spectacular throw, made under duress.” “It was thrown exactly where it needed to be thrown”.

When Montana threw the ball, Walls had to think it was out bounds. When Clark slid back there, Walls was right beside him, in the only spot he could have been.

Walls ended up being helpless, both then and on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In much the same way as “The Catch” is seen as the catapulting force for the 49ers dominance in the ’80s, Walls’ helplessness is seen as the symbolic anchor drop of the Cowboys’ fall.

Mostly forgotten is the drive that preceded “The Catch”. It started at the 49er 11-yard line and began with just under five minutes to play.

During the TV timeout, the 49ers didn’t know if they had time for it. They just kept saying “we can do it”!  

So, I wonder if after all these years, you think new head coach Mike Singletary will show the team the clip of “The Catch”.

After all these years there is still some legend. The drive ended with Clark and Montana covering the six most important six yards ever traveled by the 49ers. You could make the case that those six yards made everything that followed possible.

“I think that whole season was the end of the bad old days”, Clark says. “And judging from the way it’s still re-lived, that one play is seen as the culmination”.

Go Cowboys!!

Cowboys 31-14

An Evening with The Stars

Wow wow wow wow wow! What a night we had last night. My son and I were fortunate enough to have been invited to volunteer at the bowling night fund raiser for The Gift of Life Foundation. The Foundation was started by Everson Walls and Ron Springs to raise money and awareness for organ donation.

We were advised to get there early so we could choose our job. Well we were the first ones and man did we get the best job in the house! We worked the Celebrity sign in table. When we saw the list of who was coming, we could hardly wait until 6. It was only 3:30 so we had to keep ourselves occupied or the anticipation would have driven us insane.

Everson Walls and several members of the Springs family were there when we first arrived. Everson came by the table looking for some muscle to carry some boxes in. I asked JD if he would like to help Everson and he nearly tripped over himself. I didn’t see him again until 6 rolled around because he was helping do all the guy stuff and making friends with everyone. It paid off for him later!

The first person we checked in was Tony Dorsett. He has several companies and sponsored two lanes. All of his offspring and his beautiful wife were with him. Tony looks like a million bucks and his eldest son Anthony looks like a movie star. A couple of guys came in after that and I had to ask them who they were unfortunately. Then they came in droves. It was overwhelming. Three guys sauntered up to the table together arms around each other and all I could think of is that I wished my mom was there to see these three. It was Roger Staubach, Billy Joe Dupree and Tony Hill. My night could have been complete then. They kept coming in so fast, so many stars (Mel Renfro, Drew Pearson, Robert Newhouse, Michael Downs, Doug Donley, Too Tall Jones, Timmy Newsome, Russell Maryland, and more) that I didn’t really absorb what had just passed before me until later.

Once everyone had been checked in, we were able to mingle. It was really an awesome sight to see. All these pro athletes retired, and current players, gathering to honor Ron Springs and help raise money for those needing a transplant. But for me as a fan, I loved watching the reunion between them all. I loved seeing the young players like Tyson Thompson and Jason Hatcher paying respect to the retired guys. What a privilege this was to be such a huge Cowboys fan and see all these generations of Cowboys in the same place together, just being regular people and bowling, and visiting with each other and entertaining the fans that had paid to be there. This was a corporate thing. If a company made a sizeable donation, they were able to come and play with a celebrity.

Every person I asked to take a picture with JD was very kind about it. Tyson Thompson and Shawn Springs even stopped to talk to him a minute. They had all seen the kid working at the event and were thanking him for his help. Everson Walls was calling him by his first name and acknowledging him every time he saw him. What a class act Everson Walls is.

(My son with Everson Walls and Shawn Springs)


This was a wonderful event. I was so proud to be a Cowboy fan last night. I never asked for an autograph or picture for myself. I really didn’t even think about it because my son was having the time of his life. Just as I had realized we didn’t get any autographs and that we needed to head home, my son appeared with a football autographed by every Cowboy player that was there. These were for the corporate sponsors that had paid to be there. I am not going to rat anyone out for sneaking this football to him but let me tell you that it was the end to an evening most kids may never even dream of. My son the jock who thinks he is too cool to be excited was squealing. It was a night neither of us will soon forget. The Dallas Cowboys are a first class organization with a long list of first class players that treated us with such kindness last night. I wish all of you could have been there with us. We’re still on cloud nine 24 hours later.

p.s.       I copied the list of people I checked in and here are a few more that I didn’t mention previously: JOSH HOWARD, KEVIN BURNETT, ERIC STRICKLAND, CORTNEY BROWN, MIKE JEFFERSON, JAKE REED, BIG TUCK, ISIAH ROBERTSON.

2008 Pep Rally: Bill Bates Cowboy Ranch

Come out and support the Cowboys next Saturday, January 5th, for a Cowboy Bonfire & Pep Rally at Bill Bates Cowboy Ranch. The celebration kicks off at 6pm-10pm, with live music, food, a bonfire, and tons of Cowboys fans. Bill Bates will be there along with other Cowboys personalities.

Tickets are only $20, but they are limited. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Ron Springs & Everson Walls Gift for Life Foundation. Get your tickets NOW!

Visit for complete details.



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