When Everson Walls was a kid, he used to ride his bike to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice field and watch the players over the fence, fantasizing about one day playing for America’s Team.
Twelve years and twelve NFL draft rounds later, Everson Walls’ name was never called. All of the NFL scouts passed on him during the draft due to his 4.72 second 40-yard dash time.
In 1981, every single team thought he was too slow to be an NFL cornerback.
When the draft had ended, Walls was given three options to play football: in Dallas with the Cowboys, in New Orleans with the Saints, and in Buffalo with the Bills. He didn’t want to play for the Saints because the fans had worn bags on their heads and their nickname was “The Aints.” Buffalo was way too cold for his liking. So that left his hometown, Dallas, as the only viable option.
Walls signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. He made an immediate impact by leading the league in interceptions as a backup until he was named the starter in the fifth game of the season and finished the season with eleven interceptions.
Surrounded by an already star-studded defensive unit, like Randy White, Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Charlie Waters, Walls thrived and continued to lead the league in interceptions for two more seasons. In the history of the NFL, only Everson Walls and Ed Reed have led the league in interceptions for three seasons.
Walls received Pro Bowl honors four times in the 80s. Unfortunately, during that time, the Cowboys were unable to win a Super Bowl, as they lost the NFC title game in 1982, 1983, and 1985.
Still, Walls remained one of the most feared cover cornerbacks in the NFL. So much so that opposing quarterbacks were forced to stop throwing the ball in his direction.
Walls put on his best personal performance ever in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers with three deflected passes, seven tackles, a fumble recovery, and two interceptions. Unfortunately all of his efforts were, and still are, overshadowed by one play known simply as, “The Catch.” Walls covered Dwight Clark on the reception of the final touchdown pass, but couldn’t prevent the completion thrown by Joe Montana. Clark’s catch won the game for the 49ers and eclipsed the impact of Walls’ accomplishments that game.
In 1987 he was given a three-year deal worth $5.05 million making him the second-highest paid cornerback in the league at the time. In his nine seasons with the Cowboys, Walls accumulated 44 interceptions in 133 games, which ranks him second on the Cowboys career interception list behind Mel Renfro.
In spite of his achievements, the Cowboys waived him at the end of the 1989 season mostly because of lack of production. After the Cowboys, Walls played for the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns. In Walls’ lifetime career, he had 57 interceptions in 186 games.
Despite his triumphs, Walls never made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Although he was a nominee for the Class of 2006, Walls has yet to crack the list of semi-finalists. In 2006 he was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. He was named to the Cowboys 25th Year Anniversary Team in 1984.
Off the field, in 2007, Walls was an extremely generous and kind teammate, donating his kidney to Ron Springs. The gesture made him the first athlete to give an organ to a former teammate.
Everson Walls will go down in NFL history as one of the most talented and feared corners to ever play the game.