When Dallas Cowboys Owner and GM Jerry Jones inducted Drew Pearson, Larry Allen, and Charley Haley in to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, it brought the total to 20 men (18 players plus Tom Landry and Tex Schramm) in the Ring. It also sparked questions about whether Charley Haley deserved to be in The Ring, and that controversy led some of us to start thinking about who should be the next to get inducted in to the Ring.
We decided to let you, the Dallas Cowboys faithful, determine which Cowboy player(s) most deserve to be in the Ring of Honor. We will continue providing profiles for the 10 finalists. If you want to read about the methodology we used to create the list of 10 finalists or the 3 players who received Honorable Mentions for almost making the Top 10, please click here. You can also read about the first two candidates here (Daryl Johnston) and here (Jay Novacek) and here (Ed “To Tall” Jones).
This week’s Candidate for the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor: Everson Walls
Everson Walls was born and raised, by his mother, in north Dallas, a mere two miles from the Cowboys practice facility.
There was one constant in Everson Walls’ football career: he made interceptions. He had unusually perceptive instincts, the ability to anticipate what QB’s and WR’s were trying to do, amazingly soft hands, excellent quickness, and a maniacal desire for the ball.
Everson played football for one year Berkner High School; he led the division in interceptions. During his senior year at Grambling State, he led the nation in interceptions (11).
Despite his success in college and the fact that the NFL still had 12 rounds in the Draft, Everson Walls was not drafted. He attended the Cowboy’s training camp as a free agent in 1981. He led the NFL in interceptions as a rookie with a record-breaking 11 picks.
In 1985, QB Danny White nicknamed the Dallas Secondary, of which Walls was perhaps the most important part, as Thurman’s Thieves. The gang included Walls, Thurman, Michael Downs, and Ron Fellows.
Walls led the Dallas Cowboys in interceptions for five years, including his first two years in the league. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1985.
He was named first team All-Pro in 1983 and second team All-Pro in 1982 and 1985
In 1981, 1982 and 1985 he led the NFL in interceptions. He was the only player in NFL history to ever lead the league in interceptions three different years until Ed Reed did it in 2004, 2008, and 2010.
In 1986, he was the youngest player named to the Cowboys 25th Year Anniversary Team, and in 1987 he was named Cowboy’s Man of the Year.
In 1993, Walls was named to the All Time Cowboy’s Team. He was appointed to the NFL’s All Decade Team for the 1980’s.
In 1990, Walls signed with the New York Giants: he was the leading pass defender with six interceptions on the team that would win Super Bowl XXX. In 1992, he signed with the Cleveland Browns and started for them in 1992 and 1993 before retiring.
Walls is 10th all-time on the career interception list with 57.
Despite all the accolades and 14 years of play that went from elite and best in the league to still above average at the end of his career, Everson Walls is somehow not in the Hall of Fame. He was a preliminary nominee for the Class of 2006, but has never reached the list for semi finalists.
There are 23 players in the Hall of Fame listed as Defensive Backs. Statistics are not everything, and a few of them, like Deion Sanders and Lem Barney were also return specialists, but only 7 of the DB’s in the Hall of Fame have more picks than Everson Walls. That means 15 of the DB’s in the Hall of Fame have less interceptions than Walls (Mel Blount also has 57). Put another way, there are only 2 players ever to play in the NFL who have more career interceptions that Everson Walls and are not in the HOF: Ken Riley has 65, Dave Brown has 62 (Darren Sharper has 63, but he is not eligible for the induction into the Hall yet).
Trying to figure out why Everson Walls is not in the Hall of Fame or the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor is not easy; it is not as though he has had off-field issues with drugs or breaking the law. He has been a devoted family man and upstanding citizen. The last time he made national headlines it was for donating one of his kidneys to former teammate and long-time friend Ron Springs who was suffering from diabetes. Everson has since become very active in spreading awareness about organ donation. You can find more information here: www.giftforlifefoundation.org.
So, why is Everson Walls not in the Ring of Honor, or the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
I refuse to call that play by its nickname, but many have argued that Everson’s exclusion from the Pro Football Hall of Fame is because of that one play during the 1981 NFC Championship against the San Franciso 49ers. The strange part this is: Walls actually played a stellar game that day; he had two interceptions, recovered a fumble, deflected 3 passes, and made 7 tackles. This theory might make sense if that was the only time Walls was ever involved in a big play in a big game, but he made a huge play in the Super Bowl to help the Giants win the game. He tackled Thurman Thomas in the open field on what would have otherwise been a TD with less than two minutes to play. The Giants won 20-19 on a missed FG as time expired.
There is no good reason why Everson Walls is not in the Ring of Honor, or the Pro Football Hall of Fame.