Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Morris Claiborne's No. 24 has Everson Walls' blessing
By Calvin Watkins
When rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne takes the field at some point this summer, he's going to wear No. 24.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones held up the No. 24 jersey at Claiborne's introductory news conference at Valley Ranch last week and talked about Everson Walls and Larry Brown having worn it previously for the team as outstanding cornerbacks for the franchise.
The number is connected mostly to Walls, one of the Cowboys' greatest defensive backs.
"It was pretty cool," Walls said Tuesday when asked about Claiborne wearing his number. "I'm from Dallas and we don't have any official retired numbers. It's an unspoken rule nobody will wear Roger's number (No. 12)."
Roger being Roger Staubach, the Cowboys' Hall of Fame quarterback.
Walls wore No. 24 from 1981-89 before Larry Brown claimed it in 1991. Other players who have worn the number since include Roger Harper, Omar Stoutmire, Vashone Adams, Tony Dixon and recently retired running back Marion Barber.
"A pleasant performer," Walls said Barber. "He came through and brought a little shine to the number. I was proud he had my jersey."
Walls, who many Cowboys fans and former players believe should be in the team's Ring of Honor, was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. He led the Cowboys in interceptions five times, tied with Terence Newman for the most in franchise history, and his 44 picks are second all-time in franchise history. Walls also led the Cowboys with 11 interceptions in 1981, the most in a single season for the team. In 1985, he had nine picks -- third-most in a single season for the Cowboys.
For Walls, seeing Claiborne get his old number is a sign of respect for his accomplishments.
"The expectations are extremely high for him," Walls said. "I thought it was an honor they thought about me in that way. I was never upset at all, I saw [Claiborne's] accomplishments and they're exceptional. They're expecting him to keep it up. He's a player who can make plays on the ball and when I saw they brought out my jersey, I said it's cool."