Everson Collins Walls (born December 28, 1959) is a former American football defensive back who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants, and the Cleveland Browns. During his 14 seasons, he was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. He was also a 3-time All-Pro selection. Walls won a Super Bowl with the Giants after the 1990 season.
Walls was born and raised in Richardson, TX. He was nicknamed "Cubby" and he was raised by his mother two miles from the Dallas Cowboys practice facility. He played football at Lloyd V. Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas, where he only played one year of football (senior year) and led the district in interceptions.
He was determined to play college football, and after high school, he enrolled at Grambling State University. At the time, his girlfriend was related to an assistant coach, whom Walls called regarding a walk-on spot. He was eventually invited to training camp and impressed legendary coach Eddie Robinson, who arranged to meet with his mother about granting Walls a scholarship. He received a full ride and did not disappoint, earning Division I-AA All-American honors while leading the nation with 11 interceptions his senior year.
Pro scouts thought he was too slow for the National Football League after he ran the 40-yard dash in a disappointing 4.72 seconds during workouts. Eventually, however, his hometown Cowboys signed him as an undrafted free agent, and 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 with 11 interceptions. Coached by the legendary Tom Landry, he received a Pro Bowl invitation as a rookie for his contributions.
Surrounded by an already star-studded defensive unit, which included Randy White, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Harvey Martin, and Charlie Waters, Walls continued his outstanding play by leading the league in interceptions in two more seasons (1982 and 1985). In the history of the NFL, only he and Ed Reed have led the league in interceptions three times.
Walls received Pro Bowl honors four times (1981, 1982, 1983 and 1985). During this period of time however, the Cowboys were unable to win a Super Bowl, as they lost the NFC title game in 1982 and fell short again in 1983 and 1985. Despite this, Walls remained one of the most feared cover cornerbacks in the league; eventually, quarterbacks were forced to stop throwing the ball to his side. He led the Cowboys in interceptions five seasons, tied with Terrence Newman for leading the most seasons in franchise history.
He also was known for his contract disputes with the Cowboys, which were eventually settled in 1987, when Walls was given a three-year deal worth 5.05 million. This made him the second-highest paid cornerback in the league.
The team waived him at the end of the 1989 season, because of a lack of production and an incident that happened after a Phoenix Cardinals loss, when head coach Jimmy Johnson saw him smiling with Cardinals players. His 44 interceptions ranks him second on the Cowboys career list.
New York Giants
In 1990, Walls joined the New York Giants as a free agent, signing a two-year deal worth over one million dollars. Walls started at safety for the first time in his career, and, on a standout defensive squad with Lawrence Taylor, Leonard Marshall, and Carl Banks, he eventually called most of the defensive plays. It was here that Walls would record his first and only career defensive touchdown, a game-clinching interception return against the Washington Redskins to get the Giants to 7-0 on the season. Coached by Bill Parcells, with defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, the Giants posted a 13-3 record and reached the NFC Championship game, where they traveled to San Francisco to face the two-time defending Super Bowl champion 49ers. With a late field goal, the Giants were able to pull off the upset, 15-13, to advance to Super Bowl XXV, where they met the AFC champion Buffalo Bills. During the game, Walls made a critical play when he tackled Thurman Thomas in the open field with less than two minutes to play - a tackle that likely stopped a sure touchdown for the Bills. The Giants would win the Super Bowl, 20-19, on Scott Norwood's missed field goal attempt as time ran out. Walls was on the Sports Illustrated cover photo as he was captured with his arms raised in victory after the Giants won the game.
After being waived by the Giants, Walls signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent during the 1992 season, playing 13 games for them before retiring in 1993.
His final three years he was switched to safety from the cornerback position and recorded a total of seven interceptions.
Walls is one of the most prolific and decorated defensive backs to ever play the game. He is one of the only two players to lead the NFL in interceptions three times (Ed Reed is the other). He also led his Cowboys in interceptions a franchise record five times, he ranks second in the team's career interceptions list and is 10th all-time on the career interceptions list, with 57. In addition, he shares the career Pro Bowl interceptions record with four, and shares the single-game Pro Bowl record for interceptions with two. With experience under Eddie Robinson, Tom Landry, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, Walls has had the privilege of working for some of the all-time greatest coaches. He was named to the Cowboys 25th Year Anniversary Team.
Despite his accolades, Walls remains an outsider to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Most recently he was a preliminary nominee for the Class of 2006, but he has yet to crack the list of semi-finalists. On December 6, 2006, it was announced that Walls would be inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.
He was also inducted into the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame.
Walls was named the 2010 FCS Championship game ambassador.
On Tuesday, December 12, 2006, it was announced that Walls would donate a kidney to former Cowboys teammate Ron Springs, who had diabetes. The surgery was successfully completed in March 2007.
In 2009, he wrote the book A Gift For Ron, detailing his experiences on and off the field including the decision to make the organ donation to Ron Springs.
- Division I-AA first team All-American (1980-81 season)
- Grambling State University Athletic Hall of Fame (1998)
- Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (1998)
- NFL Defensive Back of the Year (1982)
- NFL Pro Bowl (1981–83, 1985)
- Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame (2003)
- SWAC Hall of Fame (2006)
- Tom Landry Award (2007)