Cowboys: Everson Walls
The Dallas Cowboys don't play on July 4, but it's a great day to celebrate what it means to be an American. With that we give you our Top 5 Cowboys players who remind us why it's great to be an American.
1. Roger Staubach. A Navy man whose football career was delayed by his military service. Staubach is Captain Comeback, Roger The Dodger and the ultimate leader. He never had a losing season as a starting quarterback and finished his career at 85-29. He led the charge to bring a Super Bowl to North Texas and to get Drew Pearson into the Ring of Honor.
2. Eddie LeBaron. The former quarterback was a mean Marine. A lieutenant in the Korean War, he received the Purple Heart for being wounded and was also given the Bronze Star for his heroic efforts in battle. Nicknamed 'The Little General,' the 5-9 LeBaron completed 51.9 percent of his passes in four seasons with the Cowboys.
3. Everson Walls. It's never easy being one of the first, but the former cornerback was a union rep for the players association during a time when the owners had no use for a union. Walls also donated a kidney to a former teammate, Ron Springs. It was that bond that prompted a book and an outpouring of support for organ donors. Walls was truly more than a teammate.
4. George Teague. In 2000, the former safety protected the star at Texas Stadium when he knocked then-San Francisco 49ers receiver Terrell Owens off it while he was celebrating a touchdown. On Sept. 23, 2001, about two weeks after the terrorist attacks on the country, it was Teague who carried a huge American flag to midfield before the game, igniting a roar from the crowd at Texas Stadium. It was a moment that gave you goose bumps.
5. Jason Witten. The veteran Cowboys tight end runs around with his helmet off, is athletic, gritty and powerful. Of course he's a registered voter. He missed a portion of the veteran minicamp for jury duty. If you want to be judged by your peers in a court-of-law, better have Witten on your side. What a country!
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."
With that we look at ten players who might be next for the Jerry Jones committee of one to consider.
Harvey Martin.No name resonates more with former Cowboys players than this man. He led the Cowboys in sacks seven times, is the unofficial franchise leader with 114 and holds the single-season mark of 23 sacks in the 1977 season. Before there was Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware, Martin along with Randy White and Bob Lilly set the standard for pass rushers in franchise history.
Bill Bates.A special teams ace and despite making just one Pro Bowl, 1984, he was a beloved figure in Cowboys lore. When you think of outstanding special teams players in Cowboys history, Bates' name comes up first. Nobody was better on a unit the causal fan knew nothing about.
Darren Woodson. A three-time All Pro, a five-time Pro Bowler won three Super Bowl titles. He was a talented safety who not only covered tight ends but wide receivers. His presence is still felt at Valley Ranch, because the Cowboys have not replaced him and his signature is inside a locker of former safety Roy Williams, that's now the home of cornerback Terence Newman.
Everson Walls. He led the Cowboys in interceptions five times, is second all-time in franchise history with 44 and still holds the single-season record with 11 picks in 1981. The 11 picks is also the franchise record for a rookie. It would be nice if Walls gets in with Martin, another Dallas native.
Jimmy Johnson. The second coach in Cowboys history rebuilt the franchise and won two Super Bowl titles and the third one, XXX in 1995 was with Barry Switzer, but it was Johnson's team. The ending was bad, but there's no denying what Johnson meant to the franchise.
Charlie Waters. A three-time Pro Bowler at strong safety, Waters started 22 of 25 playoff games. He was a fierce hitter who gets lost because we talk so much about Cliff Harris. Waters is considered one of the top safeties in Cowboys history.
Deion Sanders.He made his mark with Atlanta, yet, Sanders was a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All Pro and of course won one title with the Cowboys. Sanders holds the career mark for punt return average at 13.3. He was the first big money free agency signed by the Cowboys and he was a playmaker on defense and special teams.
Daryl Johnston. When Emmitt Smith broke the all-time rushing mark, he hugged this man. Johnston didn't miss a game from 1992-to-1995. Johnston is one of the best fullbacks in franchise history, and his blocks paved the way for Smith to get a bulk of his yardage.
Danny White. The third-round pick from Arizona State, made only one Pro Bowl, and he had just one losing season in the years he started, 1987 where he compiled a 3-6 mark at age 35. He took the Cowboys to three NFC title games, never advancing to the Super Bowl. White is second in completions in franchise history at 1,761.
Mark Stepnoski.A five-time Pro Bowler who won three titles. But here's a little known fact: He was named to the second-team of the 1990s All-Decade team. Stepnoski was a solid player during his era, not only with the Cowboys but in the NFL as well.
Haley will serve as the FCS Ambassador for the 2012 NCAA Division I football championship game that will be played Jan. 7 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. Haley follows previous ambassadors Wayne Chrebet (Hofstra) in 2009 and another former Cowboys great Everson Walls (Grambling State) last year, the first FCS -- formerly known as Division I-AA -- championship game played in North Texas.
"I’m honored to serve as FCS Ambassador for the 2012 Division I Football Championship game," Haley said in release. “Greatness is not born, it’s made. The FCS has been turning out great players for years and I look forward to watching these outstanding student-athletes compete at the highest level."
As ambassador, Haley will lend his support to the championship game in a number of ways, including pre-game interaction with fans, serving as an instructor at a youth clinic, performing the pre-game coin toss and participating in the postgame awards ceremony.
"Charles Haley’s successful collegiate and professional career provides a quintessential model of academic and athletic success," said Damani Leech, NCAA director for Division I football and baseball. "Each year we have looked for an individual who embodies the character of the FCS and can be used as a success story for the FCS student-athletes. We are thrilled that Charles will continue this tradition."
A 2011 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, Haley graduated from James Madison in 1988. A four-year starter under head coach Challace McMillin, Haley became the first Dukes selected as a First-Team All-American in 1985, and was also the school’s first NFL draftee. Haley, whose jersey number 87 was retired by the school, finished his JMU career with a school record 506 tackles, three interceptions and 17 quarterback sacks.
Drafted as a specialty linebacker in the fourth round in the 1986 NFL Draft, Haley ended his career as a defensive end. Playing for the San Francisco 49ers from 1986-1991, he won rings from Super Bowl XXIII and XXIV following the 1988 and 1989 seasons, respectively. Traded to the Dallas Cowboys in the 1992 offseason, he won three more Super Bowl rings during the next four seasons in 1992 (Super Bowl XXVII), 1993 (XXVIII) and 1995 (XXX).
In his 12 NFL seasons, Haley recorded 100.5 quarterback sacks, two interceptions and eight fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown. He was selected to play in five Pro Bowls (1988, 1990, 1991, 1994 and 1995) and was named NFL All-Pro in 1990 and 1994.
Today we start our yearly Old School 101 series, where we speak with former Cowboys players and ask them to fix the current Cowboys.
We start our series with former cornerback and Dallas native Everson Walls.
|Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh joins Galloway & Company to discuss the questions and concerns of a current NFL free agent. |
Walls led the Cowboys in interceptions five times and is second in franchise history with 44 career picks.
Here's a quick Q&A with with Walls, along with our video interview on how to fix cornerbacks Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins.
Q: How do you fix cornerbacks Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins, who struggled last season?
A: Any time you have a problem with one particular unit, it's not one thing, it's the entire defensive unit. So whenever I was successful, I had help.
Q: You mean safety help, pass rush?
A:I mean the pass rush. I need a defensive coordinator who is going to put you in the best position on every down, and at this point I don't know if the Cowboys were limited on how much pressure they could do and I don't know if they were predictable. Anything can be fixed. You need to have that constant pressure because there's always schemes that can keep an offense off balance. The more you do that, the more opportunities you have as a cornerback or a safety to make plays.
Q: Mike Jenkins struggled a little, but can he bounce back?
A:I think he can. We know how talented he is, and I remember when he came out and I thought he could make big plays and he has a nose for the ball. He was really the one that was leading that team. Getting interceptions is contagious and they weren't getting a lot until I came, and before me it was Mel Renfro. So you see one of the other guys who can do it, you can do it, too. Not only can he bounce back, but he can be a leader of this secondary and show them the way for getting more turnovers and turning the tempo of the game.
Q: Terence Newman is in his mid-30s. Is he too old to play corner? I know you played into your 30s.
A:He is an old guy, we can say that, but I don't think it's too late for him. If you come up with a good defensive scheme, that's what rejuvenated my career, a good scheme. If you get a quarterback and force him to hold the ball for four or more seconds, you can take a few more chances, and Terence Newman can do the same thing. He gave up some untimely plays last year, and with [Rob] Ryan coming in and being an aggressive coordinator it will also give Newman a little more confidence to have a resurgence as well. He's still quick with good speed.
On Tony Romo's ability to lead the Cowboys:
"I may not be the type of guy that really gives many quarterbacks my undying support.
"Romo is the kind of guy that once again the inconsistency is there. I don't know his relationship with his players, but if he's one of those guys that has the trust of his players, you know he's out there giving 100% day in and day out, trying his best to win a game, not giving up on the team no matter what ... then yeah I would follow him.
"And from what I've seen in the beginning of his career, that was Tony Romo. The Jessica Simpson crap that came up, it really seemed to affect his game. And afterwards the injuries started to come and then all of a sudden there became, around the league, this rumor out there, that Romo has a lot of tells in his game, and he hasn't been able to remedy those tells in his game.
"That's when you start to say, 'OK who's going to be best for the Cowboys?' Is it Romo because of his premature popularity ... or are you going to go with a guy like Kitna? Kitna was a pleasant surprise last year.
"Romo's ability to lead this team has been questioned all around the league. The fact that he is in the position to step up means that he has been knocked down a couple of pegs. I'm not anti-Romo as much as I am about pro-production."
On whether a lock-down cornerback is worth $10-$15M
"Hell yeah, no doubt about it. When you look at the impact that Mel Renfro had back in the day with the Dallas Cowboys, when you look at the impact that I had with the Cowboys. I remember Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football say, 'they finally found one,' you know … a cornerback that could make some plays.
"That's what you need. If you look at our teams the last couple of years, we've got all the ingredients in place and it's like the secondary at this point ... I've been a big-time critic of our secondary, because I take offense to a Cowboys secondary that's not able to make plays.
"When you look at how games can be changed by the ability to get your defense off the field in a timely fashion, it just gives your offense much more confidence and leeway when it comes to the game plan and when it comes to taking chances throughout a ballgame."
Joining the famous faces of Mike Modano, Mark Cuban, Bradie James, DeMarcus Ware, Donnie Nelson, Everson Walls, Jason Witten and Dave Annabel, among others, will be none other than the Larry O'Brien Trophy, the NBA's championship trophy won by the 2011 Dallas Mavericks. In lieu of playing in the game, the trophy will stick around and pose with fans for pictures.
Tickets are $5, $7, $12 and $15 and are on sale at Ticketmaster.com (1-800-745-3000) or at the Dr Pepper Ballpark Box Office during office hours. Will call will open at 10 a.m. on July 9. Tickets also will be available at the door.
Money raised from the game will benefit the children's charities of The Heroes Foundation and The Mike Modano Foundation.
Springs died last Thursday of a heart attack. He was 54. Springs slipped into a coma in 2007 while undergoing surgery for the removal of a cyst in his elbow and never regained consciousness.
A wake for Springs will take place at Sparkman-Hillcrest Funeral Home in Dallas on Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Covenant Church in Carrollton.
Springs played six seasons with the Cowboys and was the backup to Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett.
During the latter years of Springs' life, his best friend Walls donated a kidney to save his life. The two started a foundation that touched the lives of many and even wrote a book about their journey.
"He's really a fine human being," Staubach said Monday of Springs. "God rest his soul right now. His wife asked me to say a few words and I was the old guy when he was a rookie. He and I had a good relationship."
Former and current Cowboys scheduled to appear are:
- Joe Avezzano
- Tony Banks
- Martellus Bennett
- Tony Casillas
- Patrick Crayton
- Michael Downs
- Billy Joe Dupree
- Cliff Harris
- Jesse Holley
- Michael Irvin
- Rocket Ismail
- Bradie James
- Eugene Lockhart
- Kevin Mathis
- Nate Newton
- Mike Renfro
- Everson Walls
- Gerald Sensabaugh
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