(Everson Walls photos courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)
Talk of Fame Network
Former cornerback Everson Walls doesn’t understand why he's not in the Pro Football of Fame.
He was one of two players … ever … to lead the league in interceptions three times (Ed Reed is the other) and the only cornerback to do it. His 57 career interceptions rank 10th among the league leaders. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All Pro, and he played …. and started … on a Super Bowl champion.
So what is missing? Good question.
"I think it's just a matter of age difference ... generation gap, I guess you might say," Walls said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. "I don’t think a lot of people are really as interested in guys from my era; they're not really interested in their stories unless you see their faces plastered through all these TV positions.
"Lets take a guy like Howie Long. I think he was a first-ballot guy who made it in. You look at another defensive lineman (like) Dan Hampton of the Chicago Bears. His numbers weren’t that great, but because his defense has been immortalized all you have to do is mention the '85 Bears and almost everyone is going to get a nod … or at least consideration.
"But with me, my flame is lit so briefly I would imagine that people seem to forget about it, except for maybe one or two plays… which some are famous and some are infamous."
The most famous of those plays, of course, was The Catch, where San Francisco's Dwight Clark jumped over Walls to snatch the game-winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana in the 1981 conference championship game – a victory that signaled the beginning of the 49ers' 1980s' reign.
"I think the entire country has fallen in love with that play," said Walls.
He might be right. As he mentioned, it was shown again two weekends ago on national TV when networks paid tribute to Vin Scully, who called that game for CBS.
But Everson Walls was more … much more … than the guy beaten by Clark on one play, and what he doesn’t understand is why more Hall-of-Fame selectors don’t understand. Not only hasn’t Walls been one of the Hall's finalists for selection; he never has been one of its 25 semifinalists.
The bottom line is Everson Walls believes he belongs in the Hall of Fame, and if he can't make his case to the voters in Canton he would make it on the Talk of Fame Network.
And he did.
"I look at some of the numbers that guys have … and I'm always hesitant to put my name out there with these guys that I've idolized my entire career," he said. "(But) I have more interceptions … or as many ... as a Mel Blount, Lem Barney, even the great Mel Renfro, who I grew up idolizing here in Dallas. My numbers matched those guys."
He's right about that. His 57 interceptions tie Blount and are more than Barney (56) and Renfro (52). But Blount and Barney were all-decade choices; Walls was not, and the overwhelming majority of players in Canton were all-decade picks or NFL champions … or both.
But that’s what Walls doesn’t understand. He has a Super Bowl ring, gained when he left Dallas for the New York Giants in 1990.
"When it comes to team situations," he said, if you just look at my story ... I've gone from the Cowboys to the worst team in the league (1989 Cowboys), and I go straight to the Giants, lead that team in interceptions and we win the Super Bowl. So let's stop talking about individual stats. Let's talk about what you're in the game for … and that’s to win a Super Bowl. Got that done.
"I wasn’t just one of those guys who was riding the bench, just hoping to get a ring while I motivate other guys to do their job. I was instrumental. I was an integral part of that defense … the number-one defense in the NFL; one of the best defenses, really, in NFL history when you look at the numbers.
"So you can look at numbers all you want; you can look at individual stories all you want; you can look at overcoming adversity all you want. You got me. That's me. All in one package. How about that? That’s my pitch."